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Saturday, July 08, 2006
 

Armchair Olympian


I am not a die-hard sports enthusiast, but confess I enjoyed watching the winter Olympics held in Turino Italy. It was nice to watch something positive and motivational for a change and to delight in some truly amazing and generous acts. I find the wide variety of sports showcased fascinating, proving there is a lot one can do in cold climates of winter!

Consider the spectrum of sports. There are the many varieties of skiing. The downhill event has skiers reaching speeds of 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph), you get speeding tickets for going that fast in a car! Imagine what it takes to be a ski jumper as you attempt to imitate flight and defy gravity the longest once you are airborne. Picture the freestyle skiers who twist and turn in the air so fast I don't know how the commentators can describe their incredible aerial feats. The cross-country skiers have tremendous endurance, and some stop to shoot rifles while trying to manage their beating hearts and gasping lungs.

We were witness to a newer Olympic event that debuted in Nagano in 1998, snowboarding. I think the snowboarders had the most fun creating their lexicon when they speak of a McTwist, Fakie, Duckfoot, an Ollie or a Nollie! Didn't it just used to be Narly ... or was that suffer speak and I've just dated myself?

There are those flashy speed skaters in their skin-tight outfits who fly around an oval ice surface at up to 60 km per hour (37 mph) battling G forces in the turns. The figure skaters entertained us with their dance routines and inspiring jumps. They also showed tremendous grit when Zhang Dan a Chinese pairs figure skater had a spectacular fall which made anyone watching cringe. To our disbelief, this 20 year old got up, completed the routine, and won the silver medal. Awesome.

We can't forget the curlers. A sport many find strange, but appreciate the accuracy involved in curling your rock down a 44 meter (49 yard) ice surface and trying to hit a bulls eye with two sweepers helping control speed and direction of a heavy stone, while you opponent is attempting to block you or knock you on every throw. Lots of yelling and physics accompany this sport! Imagine four Newfoundlanders winning the gold - talk about a party when they get home!

There is the luge where, depending on the event, one or two people lie on their backs on a sled going down a tight twisty run ... feet first. You might think that is scary enough until you see those in the skeleton event, maybe appropriately named. These athletes go down a steep ice track, on a sled, that has no brakes, headfirst. Hmmm ... where do they find people to do this?

Then there is ice hockey. Grown men and women strap on boots with blades on the bottom, use curved sticks to shoot a hard rubber disk in the opponents net. This happens as they skate at up to 50 km per hour (30 mph) and shoot the puck at over 150 km per hour (95 mph) while maneuvering around on ice. A shame both the NHL laden U.S.A. and Canadian teams didn't even make it to the semi-finals. Perhaps too much talent, not enough "team".

Over the 17-day period, 2,500 athletes from 85 nations competed for 84 medals in seven sports. We shared the pride of those on the podium as they smiled or cried as their national anthem played before the world. Two single acts at this twentieth Olympic Games stand out in my mind and will for many years.

I applaud gold medalist Joey Cheek, the USA speed skater for donating his $25,000 bonus to Right to Play, an organization of former Olympic, Paralympic and professional athletes worldwide who support using sport for development, health and peace. Good for you Joey, you are an inspiration to many.

Perhaps the defining moment of the Games was when Sara Renner, a Canadian broke her ski pole in a cross-country team sprint event. A Norwegian coach gave her a pole to finish the race. She and teammate Beckie Scott went on to win the silver medal. To me this unselfish act defines sportsmanship and is hard evidence the true Olympic spirit lives on. See you in Vancouver in 2010.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006
 

Winter Olympics TV Coverage Far From Golden


It’s that time of the year again. The 2005 National Football League season has come to an end with the Pittsburgh Steelers capturing the Super Bowl title, the Major League Baseball Spring Training season is just readying to begin, the National Basketball Association is in a holding pattern for most fans until its playoffs, the NASCAR season is just getting started with the Daytona 500 just raced and the National Hockey League is on hiatus due to the 2006 Winter Olympics. And with the NCAA’s March Madness still weeks away, what is a sports fan to do?

We force ourselves to tune in to the NBC television broadcast network in order to try to catch some of the real competition on tap in the XX Olympic Winter Games. Sports fans are not averse to watching Winter Olympics coverage, but trying to figure out NBC’s television schedule has become a sport of Olympic proportions unto itself.

The supposed television Winter Olympics schedule is available in local newspapers, in various sports magazines and all over the internet. But the schedule times are useless in pinpointing when any particular sport is broadcasted. And depending on what time zone one lives in, it is virtually impossible not to hear the results on television, radio, or view online prior to seeing the broadcast as NBC has its coverage tape delayed in five different U.S. time zones.

The excuse to not broadcast real time coverage during these Olympic Games is viable this year in that Italy is six hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time. But on weekends it is feasible for live coverage at least on the east coast. It is worth noting that almost 40 years ago, U.S. television viewers were able to enjoy primarily live coverage of the 1968 Winter Olympics from Grenoble, France and later with the 1972 Olympic Summer Games from Munich, Germany, via television satellite. But what was the excuse in not broadcasting the 1996 Summer Olympics live when they were in Atlanta, GA and then when the 2002 Winter Olympics were in Salt Lake City, UT? Both were instead tape delayed, again in five different time zones.

The reason for NBC’s incoherent TV scheduling is because of its monopolized ability to edit and package the coverage any which way it wishes in order to appease sponsors while placing advertising spots wherever and whenever it chooses. Unfortunately, for the viewer, it denies the spontaneity of competition as well as deprives viewers from selectively choosing which sports they wish to watch.

NBC has bragged about providing 416 hours of broadcast coverage on NBC including its three cable television stations. But since these Winter Olympics first started airing its events on February 11, 2006 to date, viewers have been treated to little more than glorified highlights between 8:00 PM – 11:30 PM in whichever time zone one happens to be. During that time period, bits and pieces of coverage from any one of 15 sport disciplines are shown, with scant coverage of any athletes other than American Olympians or only winners of an event should they not be American.

We lose the continuity of viewing any one event such as alpine skiing, speed skating, ski jumping, or even bobsledding for that matter. Essentially, races necessitate competitors being seen in sequence or at least the contenders, rather than a cut and paste version of them. And while figure skating viewing requires less of a need for the immediacy of viewing other competitors in the event, one would be hard pressed as to when to plan on tuning in. Although more time is devoted to the figure skating events than most others, its coverage is peppered with teasers and unexpected commercial breaks in the action, making it sometimes painful to get through, even for its avid fans.

Since television coverage of the Olympics is all about ratings, as is all television fare, NBC for years now has shot itself in the proverbial foot when whining that not enough of the American public is tuning in to Olympics coverage, no longer just applicable to the Winter Olympics, either. While the Summer Olympics attracts more viewers, its coverage too is close to beyond the pale.

What NBC has tried to do over the years is to please all demographics as well as its sponsors while losing sight of the intrinsic value of the actual event. But as viewership continues to erode for Olympics coverage, the NBC network is largely responsible. In its zeal to compel the American viewer to tune in, it has overproduced its coverage, thus turning off the very audience it is trying to attract and retain.

The Olympics tells its own story and most sports fans do not have the patience to sit through over three hours of teaser-filled coverage. Now we all know the reason it is done this way. The hope is that viewers will sit through enough coverage in order to be exposed to advertisers as well as to garner more consistent ratings. But in fact, NBC is accomplishing the opposite result, forcing many to either record the coverage and thus eliminate the ads, or tuning out completely.

So what you say? Who cares? Well, chances are if you are reading this, you are a sports fan. Although we all have our favorite sport, we crave watching competition, with few exceptions. For example, the idea of watching curling is comparable to watching paint dry and how it is considered an athletic event is beyond this writer’s comprehension.

But for now, we are stuck with what we have. When the numbers are crunched this time ‘round for NBC, perhaps they will get the message that the sports fan drives the numbers and more and more of us are getting fed up. Maybe they need to go back to the drawing board and revisit the Jim McKay playbook on covering worldwide sporting events. It worked for ABC broadcasting way back when, when the athletes were the story, not the network; sadly a crucial element which NBC seems to have forgotten.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006
 

How To Reach An Audience


To Reach an audience, you have to know how to choose the right target audience, the right medium, and the right message. You can’t communicate with everyone in the world. Great communicators know how to direct their messages toward an audience they can realistically expect to reach, whether that audience is a roomful of people or a single employee.

Here are five questions that will help you find the right audience:

1. What do you want to do? Be specific about what you want to accomplish. If you have a fuzzy message or unclear goals, you won’t have a logical audience to target.

2. Who can help you get it done? Communicate with the audience that can help you do what you want to do. If you need your television fixed, don’t bother telling the entire neighborhood. The only audience you should be communicating with is the person who sold you the television.

3. Who would want to help you do it? People do things for their reasons, not yours. Look for an audience that has a strong reason to help you.

4. Why would an audience listen to you? The information age constantly bombards people with messages. Why should they listen to yours? Reasons include your position of authority, your knowledge of the topic, or your eloquence.

5. How accessible is this audience? If you run a convenience store, an ad in a large metropolitan daily newspaper is not going to do you much good: Most of the audience is out of your reach. However, if the paper has the regional edition for your area, an advertisement in that edition would reach an accessible audience.

After you’ve narrowed down your choice of audience through these five questions. Now you have to evaluate your choices to find the ideal audience. Your ideal audience should have the power or authority to do what you want it to do. For example, if you want a raise, you need to talk to the person who has the authority to give it to you.

You need to choose the right medium to convey your message. Each medium has its strengths and weaknesses. Use the medium whose strengths match the requirements of your message. For example, if your message relies on visual impact, don’t try to convey it by radio. If your message is complex, don’t try short audiovisual advertisement spots. It would be better to convey it through the print media.

Perhaps the best way to convey your particular message is through public speaking. For example, if you’re a developer and you are looking for public support to build a shopping mall, a public presentation would be more effective than a newspaper advertisement with pretty pictures of the mall.

Whatever medium you decide to use, take your time in deciding how you will use it. Make your presentation attractive. For example, if you’re speaking publicly, don’t show up in old wrinkled clothes and uncombed hair. Don’t send out a brochure with a hard-to-read type jammed tightly onto pages of cheap paper, or make a DVD with shaky images in a dull setting.

Timing and the length of your presentation are critical to your success. For example, if you’re selling Christmas cards, don’t send out your catalog on December 10th. If you’re presentation is too long, you’ll lose your audience, whether your presentation is a three-hour speech or a twenty-five page brochure.

Once you have a target audience in mind and have selected the right medium, the next step is to present your message in the most appealing and effective way. The first thing you must do, is choose your subject carefully. The right subject will be one that addresses the needs and wants of the audience. If you can identify those needs and wants and convince the audience that what you propose will satisfy them, you will get the response you want.

For example, if you want to motivate your sales force, you might want to talk to them about making money and beating the competition, two very powerful motivating topics for salespeople.

The more you know about the subject, the better your presentation will be. Always stick to the subjects you know well and be prepared to back up your statements with carefully researched data.

The best way to do your research for a presentation is to cast a broad net, collecting all the statistics, examples, and other data you can get your hands on. Then narrow down the information and use the materials that will support your “unique selling proposition” or USP. This is the core proposal that convinces the audience to do what you want them to do.

Whether you’re trying to make a sale, inspire greater productivity, or propose marriage always look for the unique selling proposition, and use the materials that back up your unique selling proposition the best.

You can have the right audience, the right medium, and compelling facts, but if your message is not organized correctly it will fall flat. Your message needs to have three main parts:

1. An introduction. An introduction is the main attention getter. You will never be able to communicate if you cannot grab your audience’s attention. The introduction should lead into the main body of the talk.

2. The main body. The main body of communication presents the most compelling point. The most effective way to do this is to subcategorize the main body into three parts, one part presenting your compelling point, and the other two parts setting it up or explaining it.

3. The conclusion. A good conclusion reinforces what you have said. Summarize the main points briefly, distilling your message into three or four short, memorable sentences. Your conclusion should invite the audience the act. Your message isn’t complete until you’ve told people precisely and persuasively what you want them to do.

Finally, a conclusion should inspire your audience. It is always effective to end with a challenging question, a glowing promise, or a strong statement of your most compelling point.

The purpose of communication is to make things happen. If nothing happens as a result of your speech, letter, or presentation, then you have failed. You should judge the success of your message by looking at both the short-term and long-term results.

In a short-term success, the audience enjoys the presentation and understands the point you are making. A long-term success moves the audience to take the action you want them to take.

Technology helps us communicate messages faster and to a larger audience than every before. But technology does not create the message. Communication is still a human activity, having to do with meanings, understandings, feelings, needs, and ideas.

Copyright©2006 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Monday, July 03, 2006
 

Selling Houses: Design Psychology Works!


I've taught the concepts of Design Psychology for many years, and I know how much it can empower a person, and allow them to create a fabulous home that sustains their emotions. Since it’s based on science, I know that Design Psychology is effective at turning plain spaces into happy places.

I discovered Design Psychology in 1985, when my husband and I purchased an 1878 Queen Anne Victorian and began a major renovation. After tearing everything out of the kitchen, we rebuilt the entire space, using concepts I'd learned while studying interior design. But when the project was complete, the feeling of the space was all wrong, so I began a fifteen-year search to learn about how design details influence our emotions.

Although I know a number of interior designers, Design Psychology differs from "traditional" interior design in that it acknowledges how our senses can profoundly react to many other factors besides those of basic interior design. The concepts of Design Psychology address elements of the human psyche that interior design doesn't take into consideration.

Design Psychology also differs from the ancient practice of Feng Shui, although the two concepts are totally compatible. There’s no reason at all that homeowners can't use both the techniques of Feng Shui and Design Psychology to enhance their homes. But after years of study, I have come to believe that Design Psychology is superior to Feng Shui, in large part because Feng Shui is based on superstition, while Design Psychology draws its concepts from science.

Through the use of Design Psychology, my husband and I have bought and sold 27 houses, to date. We begin by creating an overall design plan, based on our target market and selling season. Then, by using particular colors, patterns, props, and staging methods, we're able to sell our homes quickly, and for thousands of dollars more than our competition.

Our senses react to the design choices we make, so choosing the wrong colors or patterns in wallpaper, fabric, or paint can negatively impact our senses. Design Psychology works, and if you’ll just take a little extra time to avoid making design mistakes, you’ll save MONEY and sell your home more quickly, both of which will have a significant effect on your bottom line when your sign the closing papers!

(c) Copyright 2004, Jeanette J. Fisher. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006
 

A Brief History of Pilates


Joseph Pilates, creator of the Pilates group of Exercises was sickly as a child. He suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. At age 14, he remedied his health status by engaging in exercise and body building, and in doing so, became the model for anatomical drawings.

With determination and dedication to his exercise, Pilates became skilled in sports like skiing, diving and gymnastics. In 1912 he worked as a self defense instructor for Scotland Yard, in England. When World War I came, Pilates, a German national, was named an “enemy alien” like most other German nationals at the time. During his capture, he started perfecting the methods of the Pilates exercise, and started teaching it to the other interns. He would make use of springs attached to hospital beds to enable bedridden patients to do exercise, with resistance. Pilates was first designed as a reconstructive form of exercise, mostly for those injured and unable to move freely, or else confined in a bed or a chair. The crude “exercise machines” was the basis for his later designs.

In 1918, an Influenza epidemic struck England, but none of his trainees were among the thousands killed, this strengthened his claim for the exercise’s efficiency.

After being cleared of accusations, and his release, Pilates returned to Germany to perfect his method. The dance community, through Rudolf Van Laban, highly regarded Pilates’ techniques and adapted his exercises. In 1926, Pilates immigrated to the United States, after being asked to teach his techniques in the German Army. This is where he met his wife Clara, and with her, he opened a studio in New York, with the New York City Ballet.

In the 1960’s most of Pilets’ students are New York Dancers. One of which, George Ballanchine, also had Pilates teach the ballerinas at the New York City Ballet. As time passed, his method became popular, not only in New York, but also everywhere in the United States.

Two of Pilates’ Students, Carola Trier, and Bob Seed, on the other hand, opened their own studio, demonstrating the methods and techniques, taught them by Pilates himself. Carola Trier, found solace in fleeing to the united Sattes, whe she escaped a Nazi Holding Camp, and found Pilates in 1940. Having pertinent dance background and the techniques under her belt, she became a contortionist, only stopping when getting injured in 1940. Due to this, Pilates helped TRier to open her own studio in 1950.

Bob Seed, aformer Hockey player, and an avid student of Pilates opened a studio across form Joseph’s and tried to make a competition out of it by opening early in the morning. Some people say that Pilates threatened Seed one day, and told him to leave town, and indeed he left.

When Pilates died, he left no instruction as to how to continue the line of Pilates work, nevertheless, his wife Clara, continued with the Studio, already known as the Pilates studio. Romana Kryzanowska, a student who studied with Joe and Clara aroung the 1940’s continued their work and became director of the studio in 1970.

Also in 1970, A man named Ron Fletcher, a Martha Graham dancer, opened his own studio in Los angeles. He attracted many Hollywood stars, and this so impressed Clara, that she gave him permission to cary on the pilates name. Fletcher however, brought on improvements to the regiment

In 1967, two other students, Kathy Grant and Lolita San Miguel were awarded degrees by the State university of New York, to teach Pilates, they were the only practitioners ever to certified by Pialtes officially. Grant tooko over the Bendel’s Studio in 1972, whilst San Miguel went to Puerto Rico to teach Pilates at the Ballet Concerto de Puerto Rica.

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