Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Ted Talks 18-Minute Rule - Ever Heard Of It?



When I mountain bike or hike to a climbing area, I don't really listen to music that often. The buzzing in my ear is usually a podcast. Some of my favorite broadcasts include those from TEDTalks. At this point, TED, which stands for Technology Entertainment Design, has garnered a cult-like status in the Thompson household. I'm an addict. The content is rich in worldly and outer-worldly study. From the emotional to the very scientific, TED covers the gamut. Recently, while downhilling on one of my favorite trails, I listened to a 60-minutes broadcast about TED. The program covered the origins of TED Talks and how they've become so fascinating. But the one part that struck me was their 18-minute rule, ever heard of it? 

Each TED Talk has one critical requirement: no talk/preso can go on for more than 18 minutes. The owner of TED, Chris Anderson, didn't just pull that number out of his head. Naturally, there's science behind it. Anderson puts it best in discussion about the 18-minute rule: 
It (18 minutes) is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people's attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online. It's the length of a coffee break. So, you watch a great talk, and forward the link to two or three people. It can go viral, very easily. The 18-minute length also works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get the to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline. 
I found a great article on LinkedIn that sited some work by Dr. Paul King. According to researchers at Texas Christian University, the act of listening can be as equally draining as thinking hard about a subject. Dr. King calls it "cognitive backlog." Like weights, he says, the more information we are asked to take in, the heavier and heavier it gets. Eventually, we drop it all, failing to remember anything we've been told.

Imagine if we all listened so intently! But that's the point about TEDTalks! They focus entertaining with education. Each talk has a clear objective: to get you thinking. Whether it is speaker or listener, we all could learn a thing or two about the art of engaging our colleagues and the world.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bring It On Troubles!

I was never really bullied as a kid. But, like all kids, I did go through an ugly stage. It is a special time in one's prepubescent life when you're on the cusp of radical change, but where your nose, ears and forehead seem to have leaped forward before the rest of your body. You just look weird for a while. This is usually around grades 4th - 6th. Thankfully, your peers notice the changes, and call them out with gusto. So it was with 5th grade, for me. One day I came home a little depressed. I hadn't been a target before, but now, I was. Damn! After a particular bout of complaining to my Mom, she gave me some incredible advice: name your troubles, and go after them. Her point: you can't just stand there upset, you need to face your fears.

Her advice hasn't left me (smart Mom). I've found that the more one almost personifies fears, the more light you put on them. In the book, The Power of Now, by Echart Tolle, he dives deep in to the influence the "light" has on a particular part of one's problems. From that exposure, comes wisdom. We all have troubles, and how we grow from them is what makes us human. Ultimately, it isn't a collection of great times in our lives, but a series of character-building exercises, and to hell with those :)

John Maxwell quoted it best: a man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.



Sunday, April 05, 2015

New Mountain Bike World Speed Record - Video

Well... I guess that is something one could do on a Saturday!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Reflection

My Grandfather used to say to me, "Walker, saving money is like paying yourself." I've always struggled understanding what he meant. Isn't buying a rad mountain bike paying yourself? But when I take a step back, I simply transferred money to someone else, I wasn't necessarily paying myself. I guess one needs to consider the perspective of his generation, and mine. He's 97.  I use his commentary on a more deeper level: saving money is a lot like reflecting on your life. Whether you've accumulated assets or memories, we all must find place in our hearts and minds to take stock. 

Our lives are a going concern. The seriousness of how one looks back, shapes how positively we grow, or don't. There is no Facebooking when we reflect. No distractions. We are in a quiet place. Our heart is open to the power of the universe to help shape our decision path. We accept that. 

Prior to a year ago, my journal lacked purpose, and was simply a collection of credits from some period of time. I was simply keeping record of the emotional transactions of my life. Now, each morning, I journal how I could have improved from the day before. I close my eyes and take inventory of my day. Partly, it allows me to let go. However, my true purpose is to see where my actions, thoughts or deeds could use some investment. Will I need to be more compassionate to myself or others? Should I look for help? Where was the learning lesson? Perhaps I should have chosen (or will choose) a different path? Thus, the personal transaction is deeper reflection. And I am centered on: what one does with the collective power of all those memories, as these make up the sum of our growth, and who we are.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Black Rock Oregon MTB - One Sick Place To Ride

When I first started mountain biking I was more of an cross country rider (and still do a ton of that). In my spandex, while riding a 3" bike, I would see all these jumps, berms and wooden tricked out features. I remember thinking how "crazy" these guys were. In fact, I would almost scoff at them. "Who needs that kind of thing..." I would say. Funny how things come full circle... The spandex is gone (safely hidden underneath baggies) and I'm the one either building tricked out terrain or searching for it.

However my perspective changed again when I went to Black Rock Oregon. The stunts go to the next level at Black Rock (and so too with the trail building innovation). In the deeply wooded area, the dirt is tacked out and the building materials are endless. As you wind up the old logging road, you see riders jumping all around you. There are 20' tall wooden bridges with road gaps at the end of them. The trail builders are a dedicated group of serious riders that put some serious love in to each and every berm.

As for me, I only spent a short time there. I tried really hard to jump/gap/shred above my level. Alas, without more time, I could only do so much. But we can all dream of the big lines can't we?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tao And The Tortoise

How old were you when you first heard of the Tortoise and the Hare?  One of my first introductions was Saturday morning cartoons starting the iconic Bugs Bunny. The race starts out with Bugs taking the challenge, and the Tortoise doing a little calisthenics to warm up. After a quick laugh, Bugs takes off at the starting gun and the Tortoise slowly inches along... Then, well, you know the story, and if you don't, watch it below (Looney Tunes style). But there is a bigger, and more powerful story at play here. To me, the Aesop Fable represents the Tao at its finest moment. The tortoise is all things perseverance. In the book 365 Tao by Deng, Ming-Dao perseverance is described as maturity, preparation and steady pace. Sounds a lot like the Tortoise, right? The Tao teaches us to cultivate patience and to build resources even when circumstances seem to be against us. So, in the quiet moments of reflection about your life, are you racing through each day like the Hare, or patiently building you power for the long-haul, like the Tortoise?

Click here to watch the original movie by Warner Brothers Looney Tunes - YAY!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How I Want To Buried - In A Mushroom Suite

When I was 8 years old, I saw my first dead body. We had these surrogate Grandparents that my mother befriended down the road. On Sundays, my Mom would drag me and my sister on an outing that usually involved going to Furr's cafeteria. While we ate our Strawberry Shortcake, we watched in awe at the extremely slow pace of eating of our adopted Grandmother. We figured she was eating so slowly to torture us on, what always happened to be, the most beautiful Sunday afternoon, like ever! Although the Sunday outings were not so cherished, they were still the sweetest couple and friends to me and my family. No matter what we needed, they were there. Our Grandfather was always teaching me how to build bird houses or other crafty things by hand. He taught me how to take apart a lawn mower engine. Due to the distance of my real grandparents, I couldn't have asked for a better proxy. Then, one day, my substitute Grandmother died. I had never realized or seen death before, other than what I saw on movies. This was real, and it was sad.

My Mom dressed us in our Sunday best and we went to the funeral home to say goodbye. She told us we would see a dead body, my Grandmother's body. Gulp! It was kind of scary. As we walked up to the coffin, I didn't really know what to expect. And then I saw her. She looked asleep. Her face looked vibrant. She looked full. She was dressed exquisitely. This wasn't the dead body I had expected. This person didn't look dead at all. She looked beautiful. I was confused, and frankly I have been ever since.

I've been through several funerals now. Each of us plan our burials in our own way (if we are so lucky). Either because of religious reasons, where we bury our dead, or because of symbolic gestures, where we spread our ashes in a sacred place, we all do something that marks our departure from this life. To me, I've always struggled with confusion over coffins and the expense of a funeral. I'd rather someone spend the money on a party in my honor - get wasted and celebrate my life. Again, this is just how I approach the destruction of my body. So I think I've finally found my body's path once my life force has been terminated - decomposition by mushroom.

I'm not kidding! Check out this TedTalk where Jae Rhim Lee discusses a new path to return our bodies to dust, and maybe truly push up some daisies!