Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Review: Be Heard Now! by Lee Glickstein

Book Review: Be Heard Now! by Lee Glickstein

Before I even finished reading the book I applied Glickstein's lessons and succesfully ran two consecutive one-hour meetings without my usual panic and self-consciosness. The key for me was relaxing about needing to perform and making soft eye contact with the meeting participants. I have been shy and borderline social-phobic and these kinds of encounters always caused me major anxiety. I was able to visualize the meeting participants and their receptivity to my presence. It made all the difference in the world. I am now looking forward (amazing!)to taking the next step of public speaking and larger presentations.

Glickstein is the creator of Speaking Circles, where individuals can learn public speaking in a safe, non-judgmental environment. You need to read the book for the details, but this is very different from Toastmasters, where members comment on technique and content. Speaking Circles are about your relationship with the audience, rather than about the content of your talk.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Book Review: Status Anxiety by Allain de Botton

Allain de Botton addresses the issue of status anxiety or the feeling that we are not doing as well as we should in comparison to our peers, neighbors or some other reference group. This feeling can appear as a low level of discomfort when you find out your college buddy is on another cruise while you've never been on one, to strong anxiety and even depression when you see yourself as a loser in comparison to others. Now, these comparisons are all in relative terms: you don't feel jealous of Bill Gates because his wealth is in the stratosphere and therefore incomparable, but you do feel jealous of Bob in the next cubicle because he makes $10,000 more than you and you've both been with the company for five years.

How do you address these feelings? Via five ways - via philosophy, politics, religion, art and bohemia. Each of these provides a reframing of the relationship of the individual to the values of the larger society. For example, politics reveals to us that the markers of contemporary success, which we may not have achieved, are ideological constructs of the ruling class, constructs which may have had no vlaue 50 years ago and may have none 50 years from now. Religion in general places value on the individual as an individual rather than in his or her accomplishments and possesions, and thereby relieves the pressure to meet the expectations of the larger society. There are similar effective palliatives provided by the other disciplines and the bohemian attitude.

If you suffer from status anxiety, as you probably do, read this book and get some major relief.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Maryland Shenanigans

Spent Wednesday April 15 thru Sunday April 19 in Maryland. Stayed at the Best Western Hotel in Lanham.

One observation: Maryland must have the strongest ADA-type laws. It seems as if every parking lot has at least 20 spaces reserved for people with disabilities. If you want to park at the WalMart, you need to find a spot in Virginia.

The Best Western was very nice. However, on weekends the first floor bar becomes a major party and pick up spot for the locals. It seems that some of them actually rent rooms for the weekend, with expectations of hooking up with someone. My wife and I overheard one woman giving some very loud customer feedback for a good half hour. So many people come on Friday and Saturday nights that we had to park at the far end of the lot. On Sunday morning there were only a few cars there, plus one used condom.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Hey, there it's been awhile...

Hello to all of my adoring fans who have been waiting breathlessly for my next post. Well, here it is:

I continue to read voraciously. I have an average of 15 books out at once combined from both the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library. I love these places.

I also continue posting my review on I try to post honest and helpful reviews. A good number of commenters, about 25% or so, find my reviews to be unhelpful. The problem is that only a few of them say why. I do not read other reviews before I post mine. I do read some after I post mine to see how some might differ. In some cases I have learned from these diverging reviews. I am grateful for them.

Anyway, I will keep all of you adoring fans up-to-date with more frequent posts. See ya!