We gotta flip the script on what a gangsta is – if you ain’t a gardener, you ain’t gangsta.” – South Central Los Angeles community gardener/TED Talk sensation Ron Finleyfinley

Everyone still talks about Steve Jobs.

And why wouldn’t they? He invented the Apple II, Macintosh PC, first modern laptop, iPod, iPhone, iPad and iCloud before the Grim Reaper came-a-calling way too early. Heck, he was born only 18 days before little ole me, but accomplished oh-so-much more in his lifetime … kind of humbling.

From a communications standpoint, Jobs also pioneered (or was generally given credit for) the speaking style consisting of an iconic black turtleneck, ill-fitting jeans, tennis shoes, a lavaliere microphone, clicker/pointer, absolutely no speaker notes and of course, a professorial PowerPoint presentation.

Advanced Apple class was in session and you were lucky to attend.

Will Jobs go down in history as one of the greatest-ever orators? Probably not.

Were his audiences (e.g., Macworld) almost cult-like in their devotion of everything and anything, Apple? Is Pope Francis, Catholic?

And yet his presentations worked, and they worked big time.jobswithipad

The Steve Jobs-presentation method was a welcome departure from the stale, dry, boring, tried-and-true (usually an) hombre in a Brooks Brothers suit with a white shirt and red tie standing behind a podium and worst of all, reading to an audience. The real question each and every time with this tired approach is whether the listeners stop listening before the speaker stops speaking?

Better take the “under” on that bet.

The author of Almost DailyBrett has little, if no patience with telemarketers calling at precisely the wrong time of the day or night (which would be any time), and most of all reading over the phone with my name inserted into a prescribed point of the marketing pitch. Please, don’t read to me.

Okay reading from a text may be a necessary evil for the State of the Union Address, but keep in mind we are talking about reading from a teleprompter and not gazing down at a text. Think of it this way: Reading from a script is just so 20th Century.

Which brings us to Ron Finley and community gardening or as he so eloquently implores: “Plant some shit.”

Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)

“If kids grow kale, kids eat kale. It they grow tomatoes, they eat tomatoes.” – Ron Finley February 2013 Long Beach, California TED Talk

Can’t help but show Finley’s 10:45-minute presentation to my public relations and advertising students. Maybe without knowing it, Finley tinkered with venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule (e.g., 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point font) and made it work for him … and most of all, for his audience. The video of his TED talk went viral with more than 2.35 million page views and counting.

“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city … plus you get strawberries.”

The PowerPoint slides are not particularly spiffy, but that really doesn’t matter. The photos of smiling kids beside sun flowers and vegetables tell the story. You are not expecting a polished presentation and in many respects Finley’s talk is better because you instinctively know it is genuine and not designed by a skilled Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) firm.

He weaves humor into his story, but also the chilling reality about how “drive-thrus” are responsible for more deaths in South Central Los Angeles than “drive-bys.” Presumably, he appeals to liberals because he talks about how residents came together to plant community gardens. Conceivably, he draws positive attention from conservatives with his entrepreneurial spirit and his defiance of an unthinking, uncaring overbearing regulatory bureaucracy (e.g., The City of Los Angeles), which issues him a citation and threatens him with an arrest warrant, if he does not pull out his city parkway garden.

“Cool. Bring it. Because this time it (the garden) wasn’t coming up.”

Ron Finley, renegade gardener, on stage at TED2013

Ron Finley, renegade gardener, on stage at TED2013

Finley uses the classic marketing approach to address the issue of dearth of healthy nutrition choices, which is so beautiful in its simplicity: Here is the problem (food deserts) and here is a solution (planting vegetables and fruits along unused median strips in South Central).

“The problem is the solution. Food is the problem. Food is a solution.”

Does Ron Finley have glossophobia or the fear of public speaking? Not a chance. He seemed very comfortable speaking to the TED Talk crowd, which rewarded him with a standing ovation.

Wonder if he would have generated the same response, if he tried to read to the audience? That’s the point: The Jobs presentation method, TED Talks and the Ron Finley approach rely on holding a conversation with the audience with the linear PowerPoint slides mainly serving as prompts.

The net result is a presentation that is natural, conversational, genuine and which invites two-way symmetrical communications.

Sounds so 21st Century to Almost DailyBrett.

http://www.ted.com/talks/ron_finley_a_guerilla_gardener_in_south_central_la?language=en

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323699704578326840038605324?mg=id-wsj

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/05/fashion/urban-gardening-an-appleseed-with-attitude.html?_r=0

http://ronfinley.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtBpZltfR7o

https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Steve_Jobs

 

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