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January 2008

December 2007

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou (Happy New Year!)

Greetings from Hawaii! We traveled from the snow in Oregon to make it here to Oahu for a little rest before heading back to Japan to begin what is hopefully a productive year of work and contribution in 2008. I made two podcasts while on the US mainland—one with Microsoft and Nancy Duarte and the other with Peachpit Press. The podcasts will be available in early January. I'll let you know. The sales of the book have been greater than expected. Amazon lists the book now as "out of stock" but more are being printed and shipped to Amazon and others quickly. The bookstores in the US such as Borders will have the book very soon as well. I have heard from some readers that they have indeed received the book and "love it," while others are still waiting. Many have reported speedy results by ordering directly from the publisher. If you have not received your copy, it really does exist, even though it seems hard to get. Below are some snaps that prove the book actually does exist.




I truly hope 2008 is your best year ever. Personally, I can't wait to get busy working and writing again. Although I have become busier than ever, the blog will not stop. I still plan on "giving it away" as much as I can. Loads of good stuff to share in future. Thanks to all of you for your continued support in the form of suggestions, comments, tips, etc. I appreciate your contributions very much. Happy New Year!

Season's Greetings

If your holiday is not going exactly as you planned, perhaps this little flash video will put a smile on your face. The original Drifters song is a classic all on its own, but the simple, creative Flash animation is a treatment you just may enjoy. Click on the screen shot below to see this unique presentation of the Drifters White Christmas from the '50s. It's not for everyone, but many of you will get a kick out of it.


Thanks Seth!
Über marketing guru and agent of change Seth Godin said some very nice things about the Presentation Zen book and even made a Presentation Zen page on Squidoo.  Seth is awesome. I can't wait to read his new book Meatball Sundae (due out December 27).

As I will be traveling more internationally in 2008, I really hope to meet many of you in the coming year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

(If you like this song, then checkout a more recent version of The Drifters singing White Christmas live.)

Update from Oregon

Guy_zen_2 Greetings from the beautiful Oregon Coast. Here's what I know about the Amazon orders. The PZ books left the publisher's warehouse about five days ago. Until all the Amazon warehouses have the book in their computers, etc, customers may get notices that the book is coming next month or later. But it is likely that that will change and that shipping will be much sooner than later; it's all in Amazon's hands now. You can also get books directly from the publisher here. (Photo: I dropped by Guy Kawasaki's house on my way to SFO to give him a copy of the book. He was very pleased and all smiles as usual. This is a pic I took of him in the kitchen of his house holding a copy of the book...then I dashed off to the airport).

As I said before, Nancy Duarte put together a wonderful little party with a lot of Duarte staff as well some invited guests that I was so excited to meet. Slideshare's execs were there (Rashmi, and Jonathan) as were the Decker team, and some cool executive communication coaches I knew from HP, etc. Ric Bretschneider, Lead Program Manager PowerPoint at Microsoft and Howard Cooperstein, a Microsoft manager who used to be Lead Program Manager for OfficeArt were also there. Ric and Howard are wicked smart and absolutely hilarious. I had a great time joking around with them and Nancy for hours. Meeting Bert Decker was a real thrill as he is the grand master of presentations coaching in Silicon Valley. Fantastic person. Below are a few pics of the evening. See many more on my Flickr page.


I presented for about 20 minutes in the Duarte Design theatre. Frankly, I was half asleep due to jet lag/sleep deprivation so I kept it light, short, and visual. Great audience!

All creatives know the importance of play. So I was not surprised to see Duarte Design well equipped with plenty of space and "toys" for the adults to play with it. Duarte does serious and important work. A culture that embraces hard work, creativity, and play like Duarte does is just the kind of firm I love. Maybe I am nuts, but work and play are not opposites, they are not mutually exclusive. If we are lucky, we work for the kind of organization that gets the "play" aptitude that Dan Pink talked about in A Whole New Mind (see older post about this).

Microsoft's Ric Bretschneider assembled a podcast (available in January) with Nancy, Microsoft's Howard Cooperstein, and myself. It was a blast and it may actually be of interest to you. I'll let you know when the podcast is available.


Although I had not slept in something like 39 hours, I could not resist playing basketball with Ric and Howard in the offices of Duarte Design. We were awful, as is captured perfectly in these photos up on Flickr. We did this for about an hour while we talked about presentations and PowerPoint, the future, etc.


With Nancy (CEO of Duarte), Ric and Howard (Microsoft fat cats). Ric said his sweater was one of the older PowerPoint backgrounds.Yum.

Presentation Zen under the tree...

Book update from Japan

Online As I sit here on the floor at the Kansai International Airport (they've got to get more outlets near actual chairs here), I just heard from my publisher that the books have left the warehouse in Indiana, though I am not sure how long it takes for Amazon, etc. to receive and process the books. Several are already on their way to the house at the beach where we'll be staying in Oregon (one book was sent by FedEx and is already there). If you pre-ordered the book you may have received a reply that says to expect shipping in February. This can't be right. I love Amazon—they are a miracle of sorts—but I have found that they often get the dates wrong for new books. My hope is that pre-orders will be shipped during the holiday break sometime. I'll keep you updated when I hear some news about this. Two of the people who have seen the entire book are my editor Michael Nolan and cool blogger Pam Slim. Checkout what they say about the book. Their words are very kind, but they are not exactly unbiased in this case either.

The final push
The pictures below are from the night of November 20, the night we uploaded the entire book after final checks to the production people in the US. The 2GB InDesign file (a bit smaller compressed) was uploaded from Japan to the server in the USA after we made sure all the images and links were OK (very time consuming). After the publisher had all the files in late November there were still a few typos, etc. that were caught and corrected there before the files were sent to the printer.


Working at home on the cover before heading over to Mayumi's design studio a few blocks away.

Checking (again) for typos as design consultant Mayumi Nakamoto spends hours checking all the images and links.


Mayumi goes through every page checking images to make sure they are CMYK, etc.

Sample prints of the covers. Cover file was done in Illustrator.

Getting ready to get on the plane to work on tomorrow's presentation at the Stanford Alumni Center, then over to Duarte Design after that. So who needs sleep?


Unbelievably, I have not slept yet (almost two days now...). But a great day. Stanford was wonderful and the Duarte event was fantastic. I was shocked: Just as I entered the party area of Duarte the publisher was there holding up my book--the actual book!--announcing to everyone that "Garr has not seen this yet" and how excited they are about the book, etc....then I walk in. Bam! I was shocked. A lot of presentation vips were there including two lead managers from Microsoft (PowerPoint), Slideshare, etc. Great people (more later including some awesome and funny pictures with the cool guys from Microsoft). Read about the night in a post here by communications guru Bert Decker.

Cool iStockphoto deal

While I was in Tokyo, I spent Tuesday morning at Getty Images Japan to meet again with a few of the iStockphoto exces who were in town. We went out for lunch with the president of Getty Images to a funky restaurant near Harajuku and heard interesting stories about the history of stock photography in Japan, etc. I learned a lot. Really great people at Getty Images.

Istock_000003214434medium Before I began working on the book, I was looking for a simple way to add more value to it. I hoped that the ideas in the book would be useful to people, but I still wanted to find a way to "give something away" with each book. I approached iStock last spring with some ideas and iStockphoto has been fabulously supportive every step of the way. For my live talks iStockphoto has supplied with me with lots of cool swag to give away including bookmarks with claim codes for free images that I can give to everyone in the audience. And of course, if you buy the book you get access to a special code that will get you more free images.

Istock_page_2 In Tokyo I learned that the Presentation Zen deal is even better than I thought: the deal is not 10 free iStockphoto credits ($10 value), it is a deal for downloading 10 free images at the highest resolution (around $130 in value). By the time the book is out (Amazon still says next week: Dec 17, 2007), a special area on iStockphoto's website will be set up with 50 images from the PZ book from which you can choose your 10 free high-rez downloads. Most of the photos used in the book, and in my slides shown in the book, are from iStock. We'll select 50 for the download section. In addition to the free images, you'll get a code for 25% off on a first purchase of $65 or more. (See a brief history of iStockphoto below in the form of a short montage set to music on YouTube. Every image and video clip in the video is from

Tokyo report
After the meeting and lunch with Getty/iStock I headed across town to the Tokyo International School. I gave a presentation there to the faculty. TIS is a fantastic school with a wonderful faculty and staff. They are doing amazing work. After TIS, I taxied over to Ginza with Patrick Newell, the TIS founder, for the Apple presentation. Below are a few pics from the night. I really enjoyed meeting all the PZ readers who came up to me afterward. Really appreciated everyone coming out (which is hard to do on a week night in Japan).

Go to my flickr site to see more images from this talk in a slideshow.

Many PZ readers in the crowd.

OK, I had to at least *mention* the book...

Thanks again to everyone in Tokyo. Fantastic time!

Presentation in Tokyo Dec 11

Apple_store I'll be presenting at the Apple Store Theatre in Ginza this Tuesday at 7:00pm. The presentation will be in English but what little text there is on the slides will be in Japanese and English. I'll be speaking on some themes from the Presentation Zen book and showing many examples and video clips, etc. My friends at iStockphoto will be there as well and we'll have some swag to give away. I look forward to seeing many of you in the Tokyo area there at the Ginza event. Below you can see the schedule for the day in the Ginza Apple Store theatre, including my talk at 7:00 PM.


Tokyo International School
Before the Apple event I'll be speaking the same day for the faculty of the Tokyo International School, an amazing school that has been getting a lot of attention in and out of Japan. Last summer the founder Patrick Newell gave me a tour of TIS and I was blown away. Great place.

At Stanford Dec 18
I fly to San Francisco on December 18 and speak for a group at Stanford University in Palo Alto on the same day. I never can sleep on airplanes so I'm usually quite tired by the time I get to the other side of the Pacific. I have tried to present the same day I arrive after a ten-hour flight once before and I pulled it off, but I don't recommend it. But I'll be sure to stop by the Starbucks on University Avenue in Palo Alto  before the talk to check my visuals and load up on some coffee (hope the bagels are back next door). The following day I'll set off for Oregon for a week and then to Honolulu for a few days on the way back to Japan for New Year's Day.

John Lennon's message for peace

Lennon_peace Twenty-seven years ago today John Lennon's life was taken from him in front of his New York City apartment with his wife Yoko by his side. Like millions of others, I remember to this day exactly where I was when I heard the news (in my case, in the cold, dark parking lot of Mt. Hood Community College following a late night jazz rehearsal on campus). We were all shocked. Stunned. Deeply saddened. John Lennon was only 40. Today we are reminded what a great loss and a tragic waste his death was. And yet, in only 40 years of life, John Lennon made amazing contributions to the human race that people continue to talk about today and will still be talking about for generations to come. To paraphrase a piece of Apple ad copy (if you'll forgive me), you do not have to agree with everything John Lennon said or even everything he stood for, but there is no denying his impact and his genius...and his compassion. He changed things. And he is still changing things. He certainly saw things differently. He wasn't always fond of rules or the status quo, and he was just "insane" enough—just "crazy" enough—to think he could change the world. We all have that kind of "insanity" inside us. John Lennon's legacy is a reminder that we need to let that bit of ourselves out—that bit which others may call "crazy." Inventors, creators, explorers and all those who inspire greatness in others have always been called "crazy." And they are the ones who do indeed change the world, or at least that little slice of the world around them. In this sense, there is a little bit of "John Lennon" in all of us (if you want it).

War is Over!
On today there is a very interesting video presentation and a letter from Yoko to John that many of you will want to check out. The letter and the video (especially the Happy Christmas music video at the end) are evocative, and for many provocative perhaps. But you can not read the letter and watch the video presentation and not feel something. First I read the letter from Yoko to John. It is very simple and very beautiful. It speaks to the loss all of us have felt, (feel, or will feel) when we lose the person most important to us. For many, you'll feel something quite profound. Read the letter, then watch the video; you will surely feel something. Click on the image below to read the letter and watch the video.


Three video presentations for peace
I didn't expect to be moved so deeply while simply checking a few websites in the morning while having my first cup of coffee on this lazy, sunny Saturday in Osaka. But I was floored by this short documentary-like footage of John, Yoko, and the peace message. Then I thought I would revisit two other video presentations set to John's music that we've all seen many times before. But today it seemed like an appropriate way to remember John Lennon and his message. Below are
Give Peace a Chance, Happy Christmas (sans the interview footage), and Imagine. "Happy Christmas" may not be what you expect — no Santa, no snowmen, etc.— but it is a strong example of the power of imagery working in harmony with "voice" (in this case, a song).

Give Peace a Chance

Happy Christmas


The incomparable Carl Sagan: scientist, presenter

Carl_sagan Carl Sagan (1934-1996) was a famous and brilliant astronomer who was also a great speaker and presenter. If Carl Sagan would have lived to see TED, I am sure he would have been one of the best presenters ever at the TED conference. I was a big fan of Carl Sagan back in the 1980s and learned a lot from Cosmos. Sagan always spoke of complex issues in ways that were easy to understand and made you excited about science. He did not dumb down the issues, he simply had an engaging and unique way of putting the issue in context and illuminating and illustrating his points in a way that listeners could comprehend. He was a scientist-presenter who cared about being clear and about being understood.

When Carl Sagan spoke of statistics he usually followed the number with an illustration or comparison to make it understandable in context. In the beginning of this clip below you can watch a good example of Sagan doing this without any visuals, though his words create the visuals in your head (which is sometimes even more effective). For example, how much is 20 tons of TNT? Enough for a single bomb to destroy an entire block. All the bombs used in World War II, Sagan says, amounted to two megatons of TNT or the equivalent of a hundred thousand "blockbuster" bombs. So now we can visualize all the explosive, deadly destruction that took place in all of WWII (1939-1945). We can "see" the horrible impact of two megatons of TNT. Two megatons of TNT is now not an abstraction. Then Sagan drops a bomb of his own:

"Today, two megatons is the equivalent of a single thermonuclear bomb—one bomb with the destructive force of the second world war."


It's always hard to see the forest for the trees. Good presenters will ask us to step back and examine the problem from another perspective to better see what is true and what is not. In the clip above Sagan says:

"How would we explain all this to a dispassionate, extraterrestrial observer? What account would we give of our stewardship of the planet earth?"

By asking us to look at the problem from the point of view of an "extraterrestrial" (i.e., a dispassionate outside observer) then the problem need not be obstructed by abstractions such as nation, political party, religion, etc. Sagan says that "from the extraterrestrial perspective, our global civilization is clearly on the edge of failure and the most important task it faces is preserving the lives and well-being of its citizens and the future habitability of the planet."

Personally, Sagan's words here remind me that we as a species are the most remarkably intelligent, creative, and innovative species on the planet, yet paradoxically and incomprehensibly (at least to me), we also can be the stupidest. Nonetheless, there is hope. Sagan says there is emerging a new consciousness which sees the earth as a single organism. A consciousness that understands that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We know who speaks for the nations, Sagan says, but who speaks for the earth? The answer, of course, is we do. Though it does not appear in this clip above, you can read the final chapter of Cosmos online here and see Sagan's concluding comment:

"Our loyalties are to the species and to the planet. We speak for earth. Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves but also to that cosmos ancient and vast from which we spring!"

Below is a quote from Carl Sagan's Cosmos that goes very well with this photo of Earth I pointed to earlier.

"Fanatic ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile, blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars."
Carl Sagan

Pale Blue Dot
Below is a slideshow set to Carl Sagan's narration. The message is wonderful and the simple photographic images amplify the message well. I think this is beautiful and puts "it"—our lives, our responsibilities, worries and our dreams—in perspective. It is this distant image of our tiny world—the only one we've got—that underscores, says Sagan, "our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another" and to preserve and cherish our home, the planet Earth.


Some of the graphics will seem a bit dated in this clip below, but this clip is a good example of using a metaphor and simple graphics to help illuminate a complex issue. You can argue that it is too simple, but  remember that this kind of calendar metaphor to explain the history of the universe is not meant to be the end of the conversation, it is only meant to be the beginning. We have a choice, says Sagan, but what happens in the first second of the next cosmic year (i.e., now) depends on what we do with our intelligence and knowledge.

Here's the Cosmic Calendar from Discovery Education. Each month represents about one billion years.

December of the "Cosmic Calendar."

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 
Communicating Astronomy with the Public (CAP Journal)