On the lighter side
Where to get quotations for presentations?

Presentations and "the beginner's mind"

Sam Kaplan has his own consulting company, Sam Kaplan Computing. Sam's a huge Steve Jobs fan and has worked hard to refine his own presentation style, incorporating many of the techniques used by Jobs. Sam is apparently a fantastic, engaging presenter. But he didn't get that way without a lot of hard work. Sam recently gave a presentation in the Apple Store theatre in Chicago on the topic of Pages, a part of Apple's software package called iWork. This was a great opportunity for him to share his knowledge and demonstrate his solid communication skills. In preparation for the presentation, though, Sam rehearsed a lot. Sam's parents, too, worked closely with him, offering many tips and helpful guidance. Sam Kaplan...is nine years old.

I learned about Sam's presentation in the Apple Store from Lucy Gray. Ms. Gray is a middle school computer science teacher and an Apple Distinguished Educator.
Ms. Gray is one of Sam's teachers in the after school program, Generation Yes, a program that promotes student empowerment by teaching kids technology and leadership skills. "Sam did a fabulous job," she said. "I was impressed with his poise and expressive manner."

Opportunities and experience are key
I asked Ms. Gray how Sam became a good presenter at such a young age. Parent support, practice, and opportunities "to shine" are clearly important:

"I ran into his mom this morning and I asked her about the role of rehearsal in all of this, and she said that they spent a lot of time on the presentation and that Sam learned a lot from the actual experience. The keyword in our conversation was experience and it's also the very cornerstone of our school's philosophy. As our founder, John Dewey, believed a hundred plus years ago, the families and teachers at Lab feel that the most meaningful learning experiences come from students' natural interests and interactions within a learning environment."

     — Lucy Gray
        Teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator

The beginner's mind
Seeing the wonderful picture of young Sam Kaplan looking confident and happy — almost Steve-Jobs like — in front of his audience, reminds me of the importance for all of us to keep a "beginner's mind" as we strive to improve our presentations (or any other aspect of our lives). Zen teachings often speak to the idea of the "beginner's mind." Like a child, one who approaches life with a "beginner's mind" is fresh, enthusiastic in approach and open to the vast possibilities before them. One who possess a "beginner's mind" is not burdened by old habits or obsessed about "the way things are done around here" or with the way things could have or should have been. When we approach new challenges as true "beginners" (even if we are seasoned adults) we need not be saddled with fear of failure or of making mistakes. As children, people like Yo Yo Ma (and many others less known) made thousands of mistakes along their path to greatness. With an open mind and childlike optimism about what we can become, learning and improvement can be quite remarkable.

Children like Sam remind us that we can learn new skills, including the art of presentation, no matter how old (or young) we may be.

A big thank you to Sam's parents and to Ms. Gray for allowing me to use the picture from the Apple Store.


CM Harrington

Wow, that's really amazing. I *hope* the audience didn't let his age and stature diminish his message. I've found that being either very young, or very old counts against you in such situations. "Oh, what could he possibly teach me, he's XXX years old". It's crap, but it happens. Personally, I think I can learn from everyone, and you'll get something out of an experience by keeping an open mind.


I like the white turtleneck jumper,very classy... Jobs would be proud :)

Gary S. Stager

This is fabulous!

You should check out the class that helped prepare Sam to be such a leader at the age of nine - www.genyes.com


That is great. I'm glad people are still learning from John Dewey. Developing creativity and confidence in the young as well as the old is a great reminder to those of us who have been doing this stuff for a while. BTW, I had a pretty big presentation this weekend to about 800 people and used so much from your site. Thanks for sharing your passion and wisdom in presenting. It has helped me so much.


I don't know, this seems a little Jon Bennet Ramsey-ish - like little girls prancing around in sexually provacative clothing. Perhaps this child will be wildly successful as an adult, but on the other hand, perhaps not. The experience a child gets from free play pays huge dividends later in life - innovation, creativity, etc. Why can't we let kids be kids?

Cthulhu Geek

Wow, thanks for reminding me about "Begginer Mind", I have not thought about that in a long time, lateley I feel I have been viewing all things from the grizled veteran out look, making judgements based on my past experience and not on what is happening right now. And if stay clear of past, and seeing everying for the first time, since that what is happening, there might not be room for judgements at all just living and experiening. Thanks for the reminder.


Gary Yardlee

Lucky for the young Sam Kraplan, 2 pushy parents - or was that bad luck? Mum and dad you need to work on his Kraplans computer skills, well try making a web page... Oh Boy!!!

Gary Yardlee

PS: I wonder if the child Kraplan can throw a ball? And run around in a park like all kids his age should be doing?

"Sam rehearsed a lot" - I bet he does but with the wrong toys!


It's the 2006's!!! I think this child is headed in the right direction. Some children discover early where their talents lie and why not get experience and practice in those areas? Remember Brenda Lee and Shirley Temple and others? Let this boy lead the way, and let kids be aware they don't have to be a star or performer to begin dabbing their toes into a possible career. Let's hope more kids follow the pathway that Sam started. If he can do this well, all the more power to him. (I'll bet he can throw a ball better than a lot of kids at home playing on-line or TV games.)

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