Tag Archive: Mick Jagger


Running Out the Clock

Oregon’s offense is known for its dizzying combo of tempo and speed.

lmj

The ball is snapped on the average every 13 seconds.

Sometimes the same “read-option” play is run three times in a row.

The offensive brain-trust doesn’t care. The objective is to spread the defense across the field, exhaust them, and eventually overwhelm them with score after score. Damn impressive.

When it becomes clear that victory is near, the same juggernaut offense starts taking the maximum amount of time, nearly 35 seconds in-between plays. The plan is to achieve first downs and keep the clock running.

Finally, it will be time to line up in “Victory Formation” for a series of administrative kneel-downs followed by informal chats with Oregon’s vanquished opponents, a scenario that has played out 46 times in the last four years.

It’s nice to run out the clock when that is your intent.

The scene shifts to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

A 69-year-old man-jitterbug with more than a few miles on his personal odometer is prancing around the stage to the chords of Freddie King’s “Going Down.” Guitarists John Mayer, 35, and Gary Clark, Jr., 29, are backing the singer…who is twice their age. Hopefully they have the tempo and the speed to keep up.

Watching Mick Jagger on last December’s globally televised special, one has to wonder if it is possible to have this much energy, this much stamina, this much moxie and mojo at the completion of a seventh decade.

Jagger is slim and trim, reportedly a 30-inch waist. The man, everyone thought would be dead years and years ago, is backing him on rhythm guitar, Keith Richards. Charlie Watts is keeping time at 71, while the “youngster,” Ronnie Wood, is playing lead guitar at the cradle-robbing age of 65.

And yet there are those who question, why do these old guys keep doing it? Why do they keep writing new music (e.g., Doom and Gloom)? They have more money, fame and prestige than any band has ever accumulated. Their place in history is assured.

They are certainly not content to run out the clock.

It is a typical Friday night at the Jiffy Market in South Eugene.

jiffy1

The “Jif” is a living contradiction. On the outside, it appears to be your standard stop-and-rob small liquor store/market. Inside are six Formica tables set on a well-aged linoleum floor.

What makes the market different is the fruit of the vine, a surprisingly impressive collection of Oregon, California and foreign wines. The deli serves a halibut and chips plate that would make any mackerel snapper happy, even back in the days Rome would send you to hell for eating meat on Friday.

And every Friday night, sits a man running out the clock…the clock of life.

You can find him nursing three 16-ounce cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon or “PBR” for those who think that dreadful lager is cool. He has that same unappreciative look on his pouchy face with the well-nurtured convulations over his belt.

There is little doubt he will be there next Friday night and maybe every other night as well.

My question is what went wrong?

Something went awry. Did he drop out of high school as so many have before, and continue even to this day? We know that education is expensive, until you consider the cost of ignorance. Did he just say that he would go to work, and worry about school later? Later never came…Or was it “self-destructive” addictions that are crippling so many, retarding potential and inhibiting achievement?

My point here is not to condemn someone who I do not know, and chances are, never will. What I am concerned about is the waste of human talent at a time that our society is struggling to emerge from the longest, protracted economic draught in modern times.

How many millions of people are sitting around running down the clock on their unproductive, boring and stultifying lives? What is worse: being alone or being bored?

What are the strategies that we should be taking in our 20s, 30s and 40s to make sure that we don’t have desultory lives in our Golden Years? How can you achieve your bucket list when your foot is stuck in the bucket?

midnight

Shouldn’t we be nurturing our vessels, our bodies…both physically and mentally…so we can make the journey of life? What can we do to the equivalent of a Mick Jagger, amping up the crowd, rather than be prematurely incapacitated as a result of a sedentary lifestyle?

The alternative is not pretty. Running out the clock is basically counting down the remaining days of life. The end may be hours of suffering followed by a funeral that no one attends and internment in a cemetery no one visits.

The clock reaches zero.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBvFDHigBT4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Fn8BQPBir0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJU81OBkFPk

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mayer

http://www.garyclarkjr.com/

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jiffy-Market/113941481969818

“Sure, we’ll do a free concert, why not?” – Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.

“I mean, like people, who’s fighting and what for? Why are we fighting? Why are we fighting? Every other scene has been cool…” – Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger at Altamont.

altamont

As the Rolling Stones take the stage this evening in London’s O2 Arena to mark the 50th year as the greatest rock n’ roll in the world (if not the greatest of all time), there is no way in all this celebration to erase easily the darkest day in the band’s history.

Watching the two-hour HBO special last week, Crossfire Hurricane, and YouTube video clips, one is simply stunned by the brutal savagery of the 1969 free concert staged in a demolition derby track in a God-awful part of California’s East Bay at a horrible time of the year.

Every time I have driven along I-580 between Livermore in eastern Alameda County and Tracy in California’s Central Valley, I think about 300,000 people traipsing along the rolling hills of the Altamont Pass. I also think about how incredibly cold it becomes once the sun goes down in late fall.

Why Altamont?

And why in early December?

Obviously, one can Monday morning quarterback an event that occurred 44 years ago and say how you would do it differently (if at all). Still Altamont is a reminder of the compelling need at times to use the most important two-letter word in the English language: “no.”

Reflecting back to December 6, 1969: Nixon was in the White House. The napalm was defoliating jungles in Vietnam for no certain purpose. Woodstock was a recent “triumph.” The Rolling Stones were completing an incredibly successful U.S. tour (e.g., “Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out”).

Stonesya-yas

Why not give back to the fans with a free gig to compensate for charging a then outlandishly expensive $7.50 a ticket for all of the other Rolling Stones shows?

The more important questions that should have been asked were: where, when, why, what, who and how? Another question: Is no free concert better than a free concert that has the potential to turn disastrous and deadly? That particular question needed to be asked by organizers, law enforcement and in particular, the tour management and even the five-members of the Rolling Stones.

And why in hell were the Hells Angels hired for a truckload of beer to serve as the police force for 300,000? Who was in charge anyway? The simple answer: No one.

Reportedly, the free concert was going to be held on a practice field for San Jose State’s football team, but the City of San Jose was not keen on this idea. Then it was going to be staged at Golden Gate Park, but the proposed event coincided with a San Francisco 49ers home game at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park (e.g., Stones and NFL football fans in the same weekend). No Tumbling Dice.

The next possible venue reportedly was Sears Point Raceway, but the owner wanted $300,000, plus the movie rights to the event that was going to include Carlos Santana, Flying Burrito Brothers, CS&N, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and the Stones.

Two days before the show, the Altamont Raceway was suggested. All that needed to be done was to build the stage (as it turns out: only four-feet off the ground in the bottom of a gully) and manage traffic, logistics, security, sanitation, first aid and provisions for 300,000 intimate friends.

No sweat.

What’s ironic was that Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead proposed the Hells Angels as the security force. When they heard that the violence-prone motorcycle gang had parked their Harleys in front of the stage as a “deliberate provocation” (the words of Keith Richards) and policed the crowd with sawed-off pool cues, they decided to skip the gig and went into hiding.

Four people were killed at Altamont; four were born and hundreds were stabbed and/or beaten up. The only recourse left to the Stones was to threaten to not play until the violence and ugliness stopped. Was that really an option? As they noted in Crossfire Hurricane, they were surrounded, frightened and had absolutely no control over neither the crowd nor their Praetorian Guards, The Hells Angels.

Stones Jagger And  Richards  Eye  Hells Angels At Altamont

According to Stephen Davis’ book, Old Gods Almost Dead, the national media ignored Altamont. “Time and Life, still rhapsodizing about Woodstock, didn’t mention it. The New York Times ran a small story in a late Sunday edition. Newsweek ran a piece three weeks later…”

Certainly, the Stones have not been immune to controversy and screaming headlines during the band’s history (e.g., the drug busts). They have survived it all and stayed together (at least three of the original five) and relevant for five decades and counting. Their brand and legacy is still tarnished by Altamont. Having acknowledged their unprecedented accomplishments one can conclude: Altamont was a chapter in their story that didn’t need to be written.

Somebody, anybody needed to simply say, “No.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt0ipUCfdlU

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-rt-music-rollingstones-pix-tv-update-1l4n0950bn-20121125,0,633285.story

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altamont_Raceway_Park

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altamont_Free_Concert

http://www.squidoo.com/altamont-speedway-free-festival-1969

http://www.hells-angels.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praetorian_Guard

KHJ radio in Los Angeles was cranked to the max for our Boy Scout campout in 1965.

I thought, What’s with this fuzz guitar, the incredible beat, and this singer with all the moves?

stonesearly

Fast forward 47 years and I am still not tired of probably the most famous double-negative in music history, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”

That particular Boy Scout campout also began my lifelong quest to hear the song live with Keith Richards laying down the riffs, Charlie Watts keeping time on the drums and Mick Jagger belting out the vocals. I went twice to the “Fabulous” Forum in Los Angeles (Inglewood to be precise) in 1975 (Tour of the Americas) in search of “Satisfaction.” Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” served as the intro for the Stones and about 20 songs, sandwiched by “Honky Tonk Women” and “Sympathy for the Devil.” Jagger swung (literally) off the ceiling of the Forum, and yet there was no “Satisfaction.”

The next try for “Satisfaction” came almost a generation later in 1999 (No Security Tour) at the San Jose Arena. Ronnie Wood was the lead guitarist and bass player Bill Wyman had quit the band. These Stones had gathered some moss, but they still could deliver about 22 songs including Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Rolling Stone,” but still I couldn’t get no “Satisfaction.” I was now a big “O” for three.

Long ago, I came to the conclusion that my lack of hops and small hands would permanently preclude me from ever dunking a basketball. Did I also have to face a life with no “Satisfaction?”

My fourth try for “Satisfaction” was 2002 at the Oakland Arena (Licks Tour). The Stones were about half-way through their show, when Keith laid on the first riffs of Satisfaction. The crowd instinctively sprung to its feet. Mick did not have to sing the words; everyone knew them.

I had finally achieved “Satisfaction.” It was orgasmic.

Since then, I have seen the Stones two more times, AT&T Park in San Francisco in 2005, and the Oakland Coliseum in 2006 (A Bigger Bang Tour), climaxing two more times with “Satisfaction.” If there is a Stones tour next year as rumored to celebrate five decades as the greatest rock n’ roll band on the planet, I will not be attending a show but making a pilgrimage.

Periodically, I am asked why I am such a Rolling Stones freak (six concerts, about 10 DVDs, more than 20 CDs, all the old albums in wax, the notorious tongue poster hangs beside Ronald Reagan in my man cave). The follow-up question usually asks, Why Mick and Keith and not John and Paul?

The answer is that I like the Beatles, always have. The opening chords of “Day Tripper” immediately get me revved up. “Abbey Road” is one of my favorite CDs. I still haven’t figured out “A Day in the Life,” much less “I am the Walrus.”

When considering the question of the Stones and Beatles (I always list them in this order), one has to explore the roots. The Stones grew up listening to Muddy Waters (origin of the band’s name), John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Robert Johnson, and Solomon Burke. The result is a much more rhythm-and-blues oriented band. The Beatles by contrast were influenced heavily by Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. The blues make me swoon.

Another differentiator is Mick Jagger, himself. Nobody is blasé about Mick. He is one of the greatest showmen of his era. There is the magnetism of Mr. Jumpin Jack Flash himself. And yet, you cannot examine him alone as Keith Richards (one half of The Glimmer Twins) will always be part of the Stones story.

The Beatles stopped touring the mid-1960s. The Stones invented the rock n’ roll show in 1969 and became more innovative and outrageous as the years went by. My favorite CD hails from the 1969 tour, “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out,” recorded that November from Madison Square Garden.

stones69

Alas, a Beatles fan can only remember. Sadly, John and George are gone. There will be no more tours, only reissues of songs in different technology formats that we have already heard a gazillion times.

A Stones tour is always the subject of intense rumors. Where will the play? From the 400 songs in the band’s repository, which ones will make the set list? Will we achieve “Satisfaction” or not?

And today, July 12, 2012, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of founding of the Rolling Stones. We all wish we could have been at the Marquee Club on London’s Oxford Street to hear the first gig of the Stones. I was only seven years old at the time, growing up in a coal mining town in Western Pennsylvania. I was simply too young and too far away.

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The most important point as we celebrate the band today is the fact that the Stones are still Rolling. Three of the original five (Mick, Keith and Charlie) are still playing. No other rock n’ roll band has stayed present (e.g., tours and CDs) and relevant for five decades. The Stones easily could have hung up the guitar picks and drum sticks literally years ago with bank accounts full and legacy intact. And yet they continue to bring joy to our lives.

They also seem to still get a charge out of what they do.

“I know it’s only rock ‘n roll, but I like it, like it, yes, I do.”

 

“I can’t get no satisfaction

I can’t get no satisfaction

‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

“When I’m drivin’ in my car
And that man comes on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination
I can’t get no, oh no, no, no
Hey hey hey, that’s what I say

“I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no
When I’m watchin’ my T.V.
And that man comes on to tell me
How white my shirts can be
But he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke
The same cigarettes as me
I can’t get no, oh no, no, no
Hey hey hey, that’s what I say

“I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no girl reaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

“When I’m ridin’ round the world
And I’m doin’ this and I’m signing that
And I’m tryin’ to make some girl
Who tells me baby better come back later next week
‘Cause you see I’m on a losing streak
I can’t get no, oh no, no, no
Hey hey hey, that’s what I say

“I can’t get no, I can’t get no
I can’t get no satisfaction
No satisfaction, no satisfaction, no satisfaction”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/(I_Can’t_Get_No)_Satisfaction

http://www.rollingstones.com/

When is not enough, not enough? When is too much, too much? And is just right, just right?

Finally, when is it time to get off the stage?

As I contemplate the to-the-point immediate communication demands of our 2012 attention-driven society (particularly via social media), I keep on pondering the lessons of four legendary English rock n’ roll bands of the 1970s.

After standing in the rain for nearly eight hours outside some sterile Southern California department store in 1975 (amazed the call of nature didn’t intercede…ah to be young again), I finally reached the front of the line and bought two precious tickets to see Led Zeppelin.

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In my mind’s eye, I could envision Jimmy Page laying on the first riffs of “Rock n’ Roll” with his Gibson Les Paul, Robert Plant hitting the high notes, workmanlike John Paul Jones on the bass/organ and John Henry Bonham pounding away on the drums.

A friend, who saw the show a few nights earlier, implored me to sell the tickets. I should have listened to him. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Led Zeppelin fan owning the band’s entire catalogue on both vinyl and CD. Listening to the band’s recordings is one thing; sitting through four hours of guitar, organ and drum solos comprising only 15 songs (do the math) was exhausting. When it was over, no one was demanding an encore.faces

During that same year, I saw the last tour of Rod Stewart and the Faces (Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagen and Kenney Jones). All-in-all, I have checked out four Rod Stewart shows, including the aforementioned Faces concert. Each one was over in approximately 90 minutes. And each time the audience wanted more but there was no more. The crowd felt jipped and there was a smattering of boos. We were not even close to being exhausted and we were far from satisfied.TheWho2

 

 

The Who was a different story. I saw the band for the first time at Anaheim Stadium in 1976 with the original lineup of Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle (The Ox) and Keith Moon. The second time was in Los Angeles with the Faces’ Kenney Jones replacing the deceased Moon on the drums. The band played for more than two hours and ended its regular set with “See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Alas, the encore was an anti-climatic throw-away.

Early this month, the Rolling Stones announced the availability of a bootleg recording of its July 13, 1975 concert at The Forum in Los Angeles. I was 20-years old at the time and vividly remember Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” dramatically introducing the band at that very same concert to thunderous applause. And then there was Mick Jagger and Keith Richards singing the chorus to “Honky Tonk Woman” with Charlie Watts on drums, Bill Wyman on bass and Woods just joining the Stones from the Faces.

Since the 1969 “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out” tour, the Stones have always been masters of choreography and pacing, starting their concerts at a kinetic pace (i.e., Honky Tonk, All Down the Line, You Can’t Rock Me) and then slowing down (e.g., You Can’t Always Get What You Want). The 1975 concert concluded with a series of Stones classic rockers including: Brown Sugar, Midnight Rambler, Street Fighting Man, Jumpin Jack Flash and the encore, Sympathy for the Devil.

Stonesya-yas

The show was 22 songs and ran about two hours or so with the audience coming away satisfied (Who says you can’t get no satisfaction?), but wanting more. The Stones knew when it was time to get off the stage. Led Zep played a four-hour concert; The Stones gave us a show. All together, I have seen the Stones six times live, and if they tour as rumored next year to celebrate their 50th anniversary as a band, my attendance will be a pilgrimage as it will for literally thousands and thousands of people.

The purpose of this epistle is not to simply recount how fortunate I have been to see some of the greatest rock n’ rollers of all time, but to deduce the lessons of these bands and project them to our 21st Century world of communication.

Recently, I was imploring a very bright colleague to drop her plans to market a 4.5-hour AUDIO ONLY tape. I borrowed the famous line from the late Texas Governor Ann Richards (no relation to Keith) stating: “That dog won’t hunt.”

A NFL game takes an average of 3.5 hours obviously accompanied by video and audio. The Led Zep show ran four hours with amplified sound, lasers and lighting. My entrepreneur acquaintance wants to market a 4.5-hour audio tape, broken into nine chapters, but still 4.5 hours. I urged a series of two-to-three minute YouTube videos as an alternative. No go…so I had to go.

My failure to convince someone (not the first) about the merits of quick messaging social media reminds me of The Diffusion of Innovations Theory by professor Everett Rogers. The theory is represented by a curve with innovators on the extreme left and laggards on the extreme right of the page (not implying any political connection). I am afraid that 4.5 hour audio tapes are heading in the laggard direction akin to the buggy whip. We live in a world of 140-character Tweets/20-second sound bites/quick Facebook posts.

We can either embrace this new world or coming into it kicking and screaming. We are not going back to Johannes Gutenberg and his 15th Century printing press or the modern-day equivalent in the form 4.5-hour audio tapes. The Stones and The Who proved four decades ago that less is more in rock ‘n roll. This same wisdom applies to 2012 communications choreography as well.

http://www.rollingstones.com/news/rolling-stones-release-la-friday-live-1975

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Copland

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faces_(band)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations

http://www.biography.com/people/ann-richards-9457298

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing,” — Jean Baptist-Colbert, French Minister of Finances under Louis XIV.

“If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street. If you drive to city, I’ll tax your seat. If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat. If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet,” – George Harrison, Beatles’ “Taxman,” 1966.

The Beatles certainly were not the only hugely successful British rock-and-roll band to ever feel the heat of punitive taxation. Nonetheless, they were paying far more than their “fair share” for their musical achievements and the opening song of the band’s “Revolver” album was a form of open protest against excessive taxation and class warfare.

“‘Taxman’ was when I first realized that even though we had started earning money, we were actually giving most of it away in taxes,” said the late George Harrison, the Beatles guitarist. “It was and still is typical.”

For their chief competitors, the Rolling Stones, the crushing taxation in the UK in the 1970s forced the band to leave their homeland, England, to seek refuge in France and record the aptly titled “Exile on Main Street.” Like Napoleon Bonaparte on Elba, the Stones were forced into Mediterranean exile.

exile

The history of the Beatles and the Stones relative to taxation has direct bearing on the modern-day open debate on just how government is too much government and exactly how much taxation is too much taxation. The leader of the free world has called upon the rich to pay their “fair share,” but what exactly is the definition of fair share? And what constitutes “rich” in Obama’s America? The devil is in the details.

Is 98 percent fair? “Preposterous” you say? Not if you review the history of the United Kingdom prior to the rise of Margaret Thatcher.

The “progressive” tax regime of former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson was simply staggering, a top rate for income tax of 83 percent + a 15 percent surcharge on “un-earned income” (investments and dividends), bringing the marginal rate of 98 percent (no typo). Reportedly, 750,000 British taxpayers were liable for a 98 percent tax rate in 1974. Is there a fine line between taxation and almost total confiscation, and when is that line crossed?

In the case of the Stones, they were not only hissing like plucked geese, but fleeing the country…an option that is always available to the wealthy to escape oppressive taxation. The wealthy (at least for the time being) do have the means, and many times they vote with their feet or by means of air travel.

haroldwilson

Reflecting on the time, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman said in the band’s DVD “Stones in Exile” that if a band member made a “million quid,” he would be taking home only 70,000 pounds. “It was impossible to make enough to pay Inland Revenue.”

“I had to get out of the country to pay the tax that was incurred on me,” guitarist/song writer Keith Richards remembered.

Singer/song writer Mick Jagger was worried about fan reaction of the Stones leaving the UK for tax reasons, thinking that followers wouldn’t like the Stones anymore. “When you leave for tax reasons, it is not cool.”

But is a 98 percent tax rate cool? Is that paying your “fair share?” Let’s see the achiever gets keep two cents on every dollar, the government takes through a variety of taxing mechanisms the remaining 98 cents on that same dollar.

Extreme? You bet, but it happened. And it occurred in Mother England and it really wasn’t that long ago. As you know, there are some who want America to be just like Western Europe, but do they really support 98 percent taxation?

No one will ever accuse the members of the Beatles and the Stones of being conservative warriors for limited government and Lafferite low taxation to jump-start economic growth. The Stones in particular proved that the real wealthy or the so-called wealthy have options. They can move to lower tax states (e.g. Texas and Florida come immediately to mind) or even to other nations. They may not want to do it, but again they may not have any other choice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stones_in_Exile

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Thatcher

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Wilson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exile_on_Main_St.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Laffer

“…At a funeral, most people would rather be the guy in the coffin than have to stand up and give the eulogy.” – Comedian Jerry Seinfeld

Let’s shelve the cure for Gymnophobia for another day. That subject is simply unbareable.david

nervousspeaker

Besides since Almost DailyBrett is more oriented toward strategic communications, a focus on the fear of public speaking, Glossophobia, is more in keeping with this family oriented blog.

First there is an admission that I need to make. I used to have a pretty serious stutter or stammer, if you wish. Yep, the kind that wins you an Academy Award for Best Picture as in The King’s Speech. While there has been tremendous attention on George VI’s affliction, only those closest to me knew that I was fighting off this personal demon slowly but surely.

My mind always seemed to be running faster than my mouth. For some reason, there were all these words that wanted to get out and my motor functions just were not up to the task. The result was a log jam, and the more it happened the more it caused anxiety.

The remedy was slow and hard to come by (occasionally the stammer makes a brief return visit requiring me to simply calm down). It took maturity, patience and practice. It required slowing down, listening rather than always talking (or trying to talk), picking when I needed to say something as opposed to when it would be nice to say something. As Lou Holtz once said: “If you can’t add value to silence, then shut up.” Amen.

Fast forward to the present day, I have worked in public relations for nearly three decades where verbal skills are critical for success. Just last week, I lectured nearly 160 students for almost an hour about cover letters and resumes. Earlier this week, I presented another lecture on communicating with Wall Street. And I have at least two more scheduled lectures before the spring quarter is over.

Even though I had to confront my stammer and subsequently overcome it, for some reason I was never scared of public speaking…but so many people are petrified about the prospect. What are some techniques that would-be public speakers should consider, even those who would rather be in the coffin than actually delivering the eulogy:

● Practice makes perfect (or at least it makes you better). Seriously, consider joining a group such as Toastmasters International that affords opportunities to improve your public speaking with colleagues who are confronting many of the same issues. You can’t get better unless you try.

speechpractice

● Speak on subjects that you know something about, or actually more than just something. Personally, I have given talks on politics, technology, government, strategic communications, social media, cover letters and resumes. Why? Because I have more than a basic understanding of these subjects. Please don’t ask me to speak on mathematics, science, fashion, art, classical music. I would get blown out on Jeopardy on these topics and many others.

● Research your audience. Who are you speaking to? What is the topic? What are their particular interests? How can you engage them? How can you challenge them? How can you inspire them? What are their potential questions? What do you want them to take away from your talk?

● Formulate a related PowerPoint or PDF presentation and use each graphic as a prompt. Think about two minutes per graphic, which is a good way to keep you on time and most of all, stay on message.

● Forget the podium (if you can). Some people need something to hold onto, and if that is the only technique that works, then go for it. Otherwise, wear a lavaliere microphone and just like Mick Jagger, use all of the stage. If possible utilize a floor monitor so you can see your PowerPoint graphics without having to repeatedly turn your back to the audience. Which brings me to my next point…

jobswithipad

● Avoid reading your presentation. Nothing bores an audience quicker than being read to. Personally, I can’t stand it when a telemarketer calls and starts reading from a script to me. Life is too friggin short. Audiences start squirming when someone reads page after page. The same applies to reading the graphics of your PowerPoint. The audience can read the graphics themselves. Instead, emphasize and amplify on the most important points of your presentation. This approach takes practice, but it is really effective. If you don’t believe me; just ask Steve Jobs.

● Find two friendly faces in two distinct sections of the audience and rotate your attention back and forth between the two. Instead of thinking of 160 people in the room, visualize speaking to two of your closest friends with a few others listening in for their own enjoyment and information. This approach really helps control the butterflies in the stomach.

● Develop an instinctive sense of when your audience has reached its mental potential. A good performer knows when to leave the stage, satisfying them and then departing with them wanting just a little bit more (they can always visit with you after the speech). Put yourself in the seat of each audience participant…if you think your tushy would be getting soar, then you can be assured that is the case for them as well.

Speaking of tushies, let’s address Gymnophobia…ah …another time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossophobia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gymnophobia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_VI_of_the_United_Kingdom

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_King’s_Speech

http://www.toastmasters.org/

“No one every went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public” – Henry Mencken http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._L._Mencken

Virtually every Baby Boomer can remember purchasing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Band, circa 1967.

…and then Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Band on cassette (“A Day in the Life” sounded remarkably the same) until the tape inevitably broke.

…and then in the 1980s, Sgt. Pepper’s with a predictable marketing push was made available on CD (no more annoying scratches or broken tapes…or at least it was harder to scratch a CD).

beatlespepper

Fast forward to this week and we find out that the same boomers that bought Sgt. Pepper’s more than four decades ago on vinyl, again on cassette and still again on CD (which they may have already burned onto their iPod or MP3 player) can now download the same album or individual tracks from iTunes. http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-beatles/id136975

For those of you scoring at home, you have followed a Long and Winding Road for more than 40 years and Apple, the technology company not the record label, is now giving you the opportunity to buy the exact same music in the fourth different format. That translates into one format per decade (Can we accelerate this trend…hmmm?).

Wonder if someone will figure out how you can buy the exact same music in the fifth different format? Don’t bet against it.

Don’t get me wrong; I too am a fan of the Fab Four. Having said that I am still shaking my head about all the breathless Facebook and Twitter posts from my friends, colleagues and comrades and the plethora of related media stories about “finally” having the ability to download individual Beatles songs…the exact same songs that have been around for more than 40 years…off Apple’s iTunes website. http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-52951820101116

Why should we be surprised? Coca Cola and Pepsi taught us how to pay for what is nothing more and nothing less than free tap water (Dasani and Aquafina) just because it is packaged in easy-to-carry plastic bottles.

And who would have ever thought that we would be shelling out for three, four or five phones all at once? Someone is getting rich, but most likely it is not the “enlightened” consumer.

Besides the obvious redundancy, there is a certain sadness that comes from latent Beatlemania. The Beatles stopped touring in 1967, broke up three years later and of course, John Lennon and George Harrison, are no longer with us. So the band’s fans are left with just fading memories and the same recordings to be reproduced over and over again on whatever is the newest technology and then repackaged and remarketed (if there is such a word).

stonesconcert

An editor’s note is required here: I respect the Beatles. Having said that, I am a huge fan of the Rolling Stones www.rollingstones.com.  And yes I am guilty as well of buying Rolling Stones albums in multiple formats. The distinction is the band is still producing new material (e.g. “A Bigger Bang”) and the band reportedly will make plans in December for a worldwide tour with 67-year-old Mick Jagger strutting the stage; 66-year-old Keith Richards amplifying his signature riffs and yes, 69-year-old Charlie Watts playing the drums. The Stones will be rolling in their 50th year of existence.

“At a time when the French are griping about raising the retirement age to 62 these doughty senior citizens (Mick and Keith) are contemplating yet another world tour,” Schumpeter wrote in this week’s “The Economist.” www.economist.com S’il vous plait?

Do the Stones need the money? No. Are they assured their rightful place in musical history as one of (if not, the) greatest rock n’ roll band(s) of all time? Absolutely.

So why do they do it? Because they want to. And it will be a gift for all of us to share…You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you just may find, you get what you need.

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