This month, I began reading Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine, and I was so excited to finally get my hands on the book after such a long wait. Now that I’m halfway through the book, I learned today that Lehrer was doing a lot of imagining; he made up some of the Bob Dylan quotes from an early chapter in the book, and he lied about it. He lied a lot.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, “Writer Jonah Lehrer resigned from the New Yorker on Monday after admitting that he had fabricated quotes from Bob Dylan in his nonfiction book Imagine: How Creativity Works. The book has been recalled by publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt” (Source).
I stopped reading the book and plan to return it to the library tomorrow.
Ethos is an important concept in my public speaking and presentation class. It’s about a speaker’s credibility and character; his or her trustworthiness and reputation. Without ethos, a speaker doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
It’s the same way with the author of a book. Consider, for example, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. In this particular case, Lehrer purposefully manipulated information as means to his own personal gain. He lied in the book by making up false Dylan quotes. Then, when people began investigating the origin of the quotes, Lehrer lied to cover up his lies.
Andrew Dlugan’s article on ethos is a great place to begin examining why an author’s character and credibility are so important. In “What is Ethos?,” Dlugan says we can use four characteristics or traits to examine a person’s ethos: trustworthiness; similarity; authority; and reputation or expertise (Source). Let’s examine the Jonah Lehrer case using these four traits.
First, Lehrer has proven time and time again that he’s untrustworthy. Can we really read a book and accept the contents of Imagine knowing the author is unethical? Can we just skip over part of the text, the part with the lies, and still take something from the rest of the text? I think not. Once a person has established that he or she can’t be trusted, we call that person’s character and motives into question. If Lehrer is willing to misrepresent Bob Dylan quotes, what else is he lying about that we haven’t yet discovered? Why would he lie? Does he want to manipulate us, his readers? We can’t take his words as true because he’s proven he can’t be trusted. Can he regain his trustworthiness? Can he repair his reputation and be seen as someone with good moral character?
Dlugan writes, “If you are similar to your audience, then your audience will be more receptive to your ideas in the same way that you are more likely to open a door at night if you recognize the voice of the person on the other side” (Source). The second trait Dlugan defines is similarity. We certainly don’t feel similarity with Lehrer at this stage because he’s a proven liar, manipulator, and unethical person. He’s proven that he lacks character and that he’s false and fake. Since we all consider ourselves “authentic” and “real” people, it’s hard to identify or find similarity with Lehrer.
Third, Lehrer lost all previous authority on writing or being a writer since this incident. Do you think a person can regain his or her authority after such a grave misstep? How could Lehrer regain his authority? Fourth, and finally, Lehrer’s reputation is ruined. Any accolades he had and any recognition from Imagine will be forgotten. Instead, people will only associate “liar” with Lehrer’s name.
Would you read Imagine knowing what we now know about Jonah Lehrer?
Jeff Haden has been all over my blog this week! I recently read “9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People” on Inc., and while the entire article is worth reading, his ninth and final tip really stuck out to me. Haden advises:
“9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.
Everyone says they go the extra mile. Almost no one actually does. Most people who go there think, “Wait… no one else is here… why am I doing this?” and leave, never to return.
That’s why the extra mile is such a lonely place.
That’s also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities.
Be early. Stay late. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email. Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment. Don’t wait to be asked; offer. Don’t just tell employees what to do–show them what to do and work beside them.
Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do–especially if other people aren’t doing that one thing. Sure, it’s hard.
But that’s what will make you different.
And over time, that’s what will make you incredibly successful” (Source).
Tomorrow, on Sunday, when I go to the office and am one of two people working in the entire Liberal Arts Department, I’m going to print out a hard copy of Haden’s quote and put it on my desk so that I can see it each time I’m in the office alone. And then I will vow to stay another hour in the office and to keep going the extra mile because it’s worth it.
Are you going the extra mile? If not, then what ARE you doing?
If you’re curious about where to discover new blogs and to read interesting articles on public speaking and presentation, it’s time to check out Speaking.Alltop.com. Guy Kawasaki and 2 friends run a company called Nononina, and Nononina owns Alltop, which is divided into quite a few categories (my favorites are Speaking.Alltop, Leadership.Alltop, and Design-Thinking.Alltop).
Speaking.Alltop.com gives you all the top public speaking news in one place.
Blogs aren’t arranged in any particular order, but you can see the top five article titles published on a blog. This allows you to see what kind of public speaking and presentation content is being written about on a specific blog, and it helps you find what you are looking for AND discover great new ideas.
Some of the top blogs featured on the site include Ethos3, Duarte’s Blog, Presentation Zen, Six Minutes, and TED among many, many others.
What great new public speaking and presentation blogs have you discovered lately?
How To Be A Presentation God by Ethos3′s Scott Schwertly has been on my must-read list for quite awhile now. If you follow me on Twitter, it’s no secret from my RTs that I am a fan of Ethos3. They are an inspirational presentation design company committed to the public speaking and presentation revolution. And if you’ve interacted with anyone from the Ethos3 team, you’ve likely also been blown away by how kind, thoughtful, and warm everyone is.
Learn more about Ethos3 by checking out their blog here. It is constantly updated with relevant, engaging content such as “Presentation Lessons from Stanley Kubrick.” You can follow Ethos3 on Twitter here.
Have you read How To Be A Presentation God? What’s the verdict?
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of fascinating articles on Inc. that relate to the course I teach: Professional Communication and Presentation. We focus on public speaking and presentation, but we also examine what it means to be a “professional communicator” in assignments such as the visual resume (check out my visual resume below).
In “10 Ways You Should Never Describe Yourself,” Jeff Haden explains how we should refer to and talk about ourselves on LinkedIn, in our cover letter, and on a resume (or a visual resume). Haden takes us through ten overused words such as passionate, unique, and innovative and explains why these ideas are now cliché. So just how can we stand apart from the competition?
Since my class began the Visual Resume project, you’d think every single student came perfectly cookie cuttered from the same factory assembly line. They’re all exceptionally creative, organized, and unique team-players with extensive experience and strong communication skills.
Don’t just take it from me. Read LinkedIn’s review of the most overused words in 2011. The same words cross over from Haden’s list.
Haden adds “authority” and “guru” to the list, which I feel is interesting. He argues, “[i]f you have to say you’re an authority, you aren’t” (Source). Instead of “trying too hard,” Haden suggests we list specific strengths. For example, my students should say “Pianist for XYZ” instead of “Musical Ninja.” The point is, Haden says, “[s]ome of those terms truly may describe you, but since they’re also being used to describe everyone else they’ve lost their impact” (Source).
This has got me excited for my own Visual Resume 2.0 update sometime soon! I have plenty to tweak, edit, and change based on Haden’s advice:
We talk a lot in my class about charisma as it relates to public speaking and presentation. Students (and even some professors!) believe “charisma” is a magical quality we were either born with or not. How, then, can one person be charismatic during one speech but not during another? As it relates to public speaking, charisma is developed through a perfect intersection of 1) speech content/message, 2) delivery, and 3) visual design. When the three legs of the presentation stool come together through effective preparation, audience analysis, and practice, we nail our presentation, and audiences feel we have charisma. When one leg is wobbly, we lose that magical quality.
Jeff Haden agrees that “charisma isn’t something you have. It’s something you earn” (Source). In “How To Be More Charismatic: 10 Tips,” he details how you can work to be a more charismatic person. Just like with presentation, his tips involve being audience-focused as opposed to self-centered.
To learn more about how to be a charismatic presenter, check out my three-part series here.
Hello everyone! I’m so excited to finally announce my big news… This morning, my guest blog post for Andrew Dlugan’s Six Minutes was finally published!
Read “10 Presentation Habits My Students – And You – Must Un-Learn” here. And stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!
I’d like to say an extra special “thank you” to Andrew Dlugan. He is smart, talented, and a joy to work with.
With traveling and visits from family lately, my Solitary Sunday project has gotten a little off track. However, I’m truly committed to a productive lifestyle, and this Sunday marks the return of the official one-day-a-week social media/television/telephone hiatus.
Today, I woke up early for a run, gardened and cleaned the house, took care of a mountain of grading, and watched The Dark Knight Rises with my husband. And it’s only 5:00!
Recently, even without officially participating in Solitary Sundays, I’ve been noticing my productivity levels skyrocketing. The week before Phoenix, I finally got my workout routine figured out. Since 100 degree Florida summertime isn’t conducive to running, I began waking up early to get a 3 or 4 miler in before work. This simple change helped me with many of my health and wellness issues.
First, I’ve been eating breakfast (a meal I typically skip) because the AM run jumpstarts my metabolism. A typical day for me includes skipping breakfast and forgetting to eat lunch only to crash at the end of the afternoon. Now, I’m eating when I need to, and it’s helped me feel so much better and, in turn, work so much harder.
The second valuable thing I’ve seen lately are increased energy levels leading to more productivity. Running in the morning makes me feel alive, awake, and alert. I get more accomplished throughout the day because I feel better. Too, I have more energy to add in yoga or weights in the afternoon.
Third, and most importantly, I’ve really worked to surround myself with other productive people. The friends I talk to the most and the people I spend my days and evenings with are committed to working hard, setting goals, and getting things done. I’ve noticed how many people (students, co-workers, friends, team members) complain, procrastinate, and make excuses. “I’d present a better speech if I had more time.” “I’d love my life so much more if I had a better job.” “I’d work harder if…” “I’d do more if…” Productivity, health, and happiness are lifestyle choices. You can make the decision to live well. All it takes is a little willpower. Or, of course, you can continue being worthless.
People often marvel at how much I get done. But trust me, it’s not hard to be productive when you’ve eliminated the pointlessness from your life. So, on this 5th(ish) Solitary Sunday, I implore you to stop wasting your life away. What has Bravo TV given you? How are you learning and growing after watching the Kardashians? What has a week of sitting on the couch done to your body? What do hours a day “liking” photos on Facebook add up to? Momentarily fleeting “fun” is making you mentally and physically unhealthy. I refuse to live like that, and my anger fueled the Solitary Sunday Project. SSP may be just what you need to join me in living a more active, productive life. What could it do for you?