Tiger Lands in the Rough

Welcome back!
I'm just back from a few days in Vancouver and, as always, am blown away by the sheer beauty of that city. Although busy with a seminar and an all-day meeting I couldn't help but be impressed by the 'yes we can' spirit of British Columbians as they get ready for the 2010 Olympics, amidst some tough economic realities.

Two 'Crashes' of a Different Kind
Two un-related incidents occurred since my last posting - involving the 'Crash' theme - have prompted me to write.

First, the party-crashing exploits of the Reality-show wannabes Tareq and Michaele Salahi of the White House state dinner.

A lot of blame has been focused on the Secret Service. No doubt some of it is justified. However, having experienced up close and personal the Obama mix of celebrity and security (in Laura's and my case - the Inaugural Balls) I merely add a few remarks to give some context to the challenge the White House faced as they simultaneously welcomed and screened their invited (and uninvited) guests.
Intrepid readers will recall that Laura and I were lucky enough to be selected to do the 'VIP Screening' at the site of six official Presidential Balls on Inauguration Day.

The challenge, as I am sure it was at the White House last week was to be welcoming of the celebrity guests, while checking quickly to see if they were indeed on the invite list. It appears that either no one at the checkpoint had the invite list or they failed to consult it. That's not good, to say the least.

At the Inaugural Balls we had a different set of challenges - where the 'accreditation' process was done in advance, and everyone had to be in possession of two separate photo ID badges which they wore around their necks. We had to check each of those badges up close, while welcoming not only the celebrity but also their entourages who came swarming in with some of them. All the while, we were cheerful and welcoming in tone. I found the Secret Service agent terrifically professional and he didn't try to do our job for us and vice versa.

So the 'party crasher' couple at the White House had figured out the vulnerability in a social setting like that - dress like everyone else, sweep in when there's a crowd moving through and act confidently. If that couple make it as regulars on 'Real Housewives of Washington D.C.' as a result of this stunt, then we all have to promise to boycott the Bravo network if they dare to air it. [On second thought, calling for a boycott, would only send their ratings through the roof..]

Just to recollect on our Inaugural experience, check the link below:

Tiger's Crash
Speaking of other 'crashes', in the past few days, the media could hardly contain themselves as they feed on every morsel emerging (or not) from the Tiger Woods 'accident' in front of his home. As the greatest golfer in history, and as one of the most recognized and admired people on the planet, I can't help but cringe at his mis-handling of what should be a fairly-straightforward incident.

Here we are, three days into the issue, and on three separate occasions Florida State police have been rebuffed in their efforts to get a statement from Tiger and to answer their questions. Instead, he posted a statement on his website, which only served to confuse the issue and deepen the mystery.

So let's cut to the chase. If it was just an accident, then why all the delay in speaking to the police? Why did he say, "this situation is my fault... I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again?" None of us can make sure an accident doesn't happen again. That's why it's an accident. Hhhmmmm. That statement just raised more questions than it answered. That of course is the opposite of what you do in crisis management.

What should he have done? For starters, meet with the cops and tell them what happened. He should meet with the media and respond to their questions. If he can't do that for reasons of embarrassment or for legal matters that we may be unaware of, then he needs to find an opportunity to meet with a respected journalist or broadcaster and respond to his or her questions. The latter is a proxy for a full-fledged news conference but at least he is responding to the questions that people have about it. As an international figure, he is entitled to a private life, but once an unexplained incident such as this occurs which threatens to hurt the Tiger 'brand', he needs to respect that and move quickly and expeditiously to resolve it.

He cancelled his appearance at his own golf tournament in Thousand Oaks California. It was inevitable that he did this, but it didn't necessarily have to be....if he had handled the media side of it more quickly. Sorry Tiger, but at the risk of one more golf cliche, once you're in rough this deep, stop hacking away, pick up your ball and go for a clean drop. Your gallery will still root for you. They just want a straightforward story and the sooner the better.

Until next time.....


The Streets of London

Welcome back....

"So how can you tell me you're lonely,
And say for you that the sun don't shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something to make you change your mind." 

 - Ralph McTell

Well since we last got together less than two weeks ago, my travels have taken me to Toronto, Mt. Laurel NJ, Halifax NS, Philadelphia PA and London, England. Certainly not in Barack Obama's or Stephen Harper's league, but nevertheless I've been on the move indeed. In fact, I am off to Vancouver two days from now, so it hasn't stopped yet! I always say that getting on a plane to fly off somewhere to do a seminar is the second worst complaint you can have. The worst being that nobody calls you in the first place! However, I always have a book or two on me, and I think of the flights as time to think and relax. Sometimes it even works.....

Laura and I had one of those great travel experiences when we had a wonderful opportunity to fly over to London and back on a Gulfstream jet. Now that kind of spoils you for commercial travel, but, hey, somebody's gotta do it, right? We arrived at Biggin Hill airport in south London and were whisked through immigration. I had one of those great 'life comes full circle moments' as we pulled up to a stop. It all came back to me, that when we were kids living in RCAF Station Cold Lake Alberta, the school district was called.....the Biggin Hill School District. Who would have thunk it, right?

London was - as always - beautiful, with hardly any rain, and Laura and I did our favorite thing - walking through the winding streets of Mayfair, on our way to and from our three seminars. Although we didn't have a lot of spare time, we savoured every minute of the London experience.

The U.K has been hard hit economically and there is much political jockeying as Prime Minister Gordon Brown tries to catch up with Conservative Leader David Cameron in  public opinion. So far it looks like an impossible task, as he has to call the election by next May. We were there for the Queen's Speech, the British equivalent of the 'Speech from the Throne', written by the PM setting out the government's agenda, but delivered by Her Majesty. Although it seems like an anacronism to Americans and others, it has a certain majesty to it (no pun intended), which at the very least lifts it above the often nasty political discourse of the House of Commons.

President Obama was burnishing his foreign affairs credentials in Japan and China - and in spite of the censorship of the Chinese government - managed to tweak the Communists about their attempts to control free expression in a staged 'town hall' meeting with Chinese 'students'. Good for him!

Prime Minister Harper also made great strides in building his foreign relations experience, this time on his trip to India. Although lots of tsk tsking at home about the political impact on the 1 million South Asian Canadians (perhaps they would be more satisfied if he toured Antarctica?), it was absolutely the right thing to do - given India's rapid economic growth and increasingly global presence. 

So Sarah Palin's Going Rogue, huh? I notice that she is finally doing the kind of media interviews that she should have done during the campaign - Barbara Walters, instead of Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson! By the way I loved that faked-up Fox News item showing clips of huge crowds from the 2008 campaign, presenting them as the audience who are showing up for her book tour speeches:

So until next time.....may all your travels be smooth...and true....and if you could get on one of those Gulfstreams, go for it!


Remembering our Veterans

Welcome back
November 9th is a day with special significance in our family. It would have been my brother Stephen's 56th birthday, but he passed away in 2001 (although it seems only a short while ago that we lost him to kidney cancer). In a poignant footnote to that, my beloved mom, May (Beveridge), passed away on the 9th of November three years ago. From the moment of the call in the middle of the night, I thought about the significance of that.

So we spent a little time on a beautiful and incredibly warm Sunday visiting their gravesites next to each other on a beautiful site overlooking the National Military Cemetery at Beechwood in Ottawa.

It also gave us pause to walk over there to see the touchingly beautiful memorial to fallen soldiers who died in service to their country - many of them the same age as our children.So as you can imagine, on the eve of Remembrance Day (or Veterans' Day in the United States where I am now), that one's thoughts are with the families of these brave young men and women. As the proud son of a World War II veteran (my dad served with the R.A.F. in North Africa and India), I am vulnerable to some sentimental feelings at this time of year. Well okay, not necesasrily even at this time of year!

At our Church every year, Father Joe LeClair puts together a moving ceremony. Always one of the highlights is the hauntingly beautiful, 'Green Fields of France', by Eric Bogle (the prolific Australian singer/songwriter who also wrote the powerful 'And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda').

The Green Fields of France
Well, how do you do, Private William McBride,
Do you mind if I sit down here by your graveside?
And rest for awhile in the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day, and I'm nearly done.

And I see by your gravestone you were only 19
When you joined the glorious fallen in 1916,
Well, I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean
Or, Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they Beat the drum slowly, did the play the pipes lowly?
Did the rifles fir o'er you as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles sound The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?
And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined?
And, though you died back in 1916,
To that loyal heart are you forever 19?
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Forever enshrined behind some glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained,
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?

The sun's shining down on these green fields of France;
The warm wind blows gently, and the red poppies dance.
The trenches have vanished long under the plow;
No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard that's still No Man's Land
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man.
And a whole generation who were butchered and damned.

And I can't help but wonder, no Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you "The Cause?"
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain,
For Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

© Eric Bogle

So on November 11th, let's wear a poppy, go to a memorial to the fallen and spend that two minutes of silence in deep gratitude.
Until next time....


How to Connect with your Audience

Welcome back I don't know about you but is life just incredibly busy right now, or is that just me?![Of course, it's the second-worst complaint you can have....]. This week's post is about how to connect with your audience. Although my references are from the world of politics, hopefully you can see how this will apply to the non-political world. All political junkies will enjoy the HBO Documentary on the Obama victory, By the People: The Election of Barack Obama. It shows the power of message, focus, motivating and organizing volunteers in the Obama campaign's two year run for the Presidency. All of it added up to connecting with the American public at a time in which the hunger for change was profound, but the risks attached to their choice were never higher. The documentary shows how they broke through into the consciousness of the American people, how they generated massive support by focusing on "change we need...change you can believe in...yes we can!" I particularly enjoyed watching the debate preparation, having spent a lot of time doing that with candidates over the years.They nailed the mistake that the McCain campaign made when in their debate prep they said, "John McCain switched from 'experience' to 'change' as his theme. What a mistake! No kidding. So regardless of your political stripes, it's a fascinating lesson in successful campaigning. Powerful Speeches that Connect with Audiences As someone who trains people on how to deliver speeches on TelePrompters (among other things of course) I pay close attention to political leaders who use it as their preferred delivery tool. Barack Obama is a master. He seems so at ease doing it, that at times it's hard to tell if he is using one. Ah..but that is the art form.Check out this video on the President's over-use of the TelePrompter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAxmNQ-faqo Prime Minister Stephen Harper also utilizes the TelePrompter very often and he has clearly developed a comfort zone with it. I thought one of his best speeches ever was on the 65th Anniversary of D-Day over in France. He did it so seamlessly that it isn't until near the end - when we see the glass screens - that we know he is using the TelePrompter tool. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8qi6m8vBWM Five Quick Tips on Using a TelePrompter 1. Practice looking through the center of the screen - not a left-to-right, word-by-word approach. 2. Feel your words, don't just read them. If it sounds like you're reading it, then that's not good. 3. Don't lock in too long with one screen. Vary your delivery from one screen through the center of the room and then over to the right screen. Then do it in reverse. 4. 'Scoop' your words up off the screen and deliver them out to the room. [This requires a lot of practice. You can practice that with the printed version as well. 5. Did I mention practice?