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Ideas for people pursuing an empowered life,




Communicate with a creative intent

Recently, needing my digital video camera whch I hadn't used in a while, I was surprised to find a cassette I'd forgotten since the last time it was used. I anxiously scanned it and was happy to find footage from our place in Costa Rica. I was even more tickled when I heard the wondrous jungle noises in the background, especially the piercing scream of a Howler Monkey.

Now a resident of our forest, I remembered how upset it got when I helped myself to one of my bananas. The Howler Monkey is the loudest land mammal on Earth and its call can be heard 5kms away in the dense forest or as much as 10kms over the Costa Rican treetops. The only animal louder is the great Blue Whale whichbenefits from the conductivity of the ocean.

Male Howlers use their tremendous voices at the start and the end of each day to mark their territory. With a clear and creative intent, they are checking out the competition. A tribe's howls will immediately be answered by other groups within earshot and in this way any food discovered is quickly claimed. This is crucial because fresh fruit and flowers spoil and these treasures must be taken as soon as they are found.

I know that it can very disorienting to hear a Howler Monkey's awesome screams in the wild. I've met more than one tourist whose reaction was to be convinced he or she was being stalked by some huge monster. People in the know however, consider that howl to be real jungle music so it strikes us as particularly sad to realize that the Howler is one of so many species now endangered by a loss of habitat.

In spite of their superior communications skills, they haven't yet developed the creativity to convince people that we must safeguard the rainforest so critical to our common survival. Looking at my video, I thought about this and about something else. I realized that, now as never before, we have to speak out in defense of the Planet but I remembered that public-speaking is reportedly our #1 fear. As I'm an experienced conference speaker and that I actually enjoy sharing my message with an audience, I thought I'd offer the following tips on how to communicate a clear intent.

Of course feeling some nervousness before addressing the public is natural and even beneficial but too much anxiety is detrimental so here is what you can do about it:

  1. Master your material. Pick a topic you understand and craft a story that will communicate what people NEED TO KNOW about it. Figure on one doublespaced page of writing for every minute of speech.
  2. Use personal anecdotes and a conversational style. Pretend you are speaking to only one person.
  3. Practice. Practice. Practice! For beginners, the rule of thumb is an hour of practice for every one minute of speech. Rehearse out loud with the audio-visual aids or props that you plan on using.
  4. Know your audience. Make eye contact with people as they arrive. It's easier to speak to a group you are somewhat familiar with than to complete strangers. Arrive early and get familiar with the stage, the microphone, the projector, etc..
  5. Learn to relax. Ease your tension by transforming your nervous energy into enthusiasm. Look forward to sharing valuable information.
  6. Don't apologize for nervousness, flubs or any other problem - the audience doesn't know what you meant to say and probably won't even notice.
  7. Believe that the audience wants you to succeed. People expect you to be interesting, informative and entertaining, and they are motivated to hear a good presentation. They don't want you to fail.

The bottom line is: concentrate on your intent to communicate a valuable message so that you can focus your attention away from any anxiety. Standing before the public is so daunting a task for most folks, just being there is more than half the battle. Have a good time and, as we say in the trade - "Break a leg!"



Using analogies is a key feature in many approaches to creativity. We use analogical thinking whenever we say that something is like something else. For example, if an airline wants to solve a scheduling problem, it can imagine that a jumbo jet is like an albatross in that they both fly, or both have wings, or both travel for a long distance, etc.. Making analogies can help you glean valuable insight into the creative process and provoke interesting breakthroughs. To learn the rules for using analogies, click here:



The strategic thinking of its leaders is the only common link between an organization's priorities and their realization. But strategic thinking skills aren't gifts for the special few; they can be learned and enhanced. Check out our exceptional strategic thinking week in Costa Rica.



Podcasting is a phenomenon whose time is come. If you think that you are getting accurate information from network television and radio, it might be time to consider taking a deep whiff to smell the coffee. As you do, listen to one of (at this writing) over 27,000 audio podcasts are listed on iPodderX or subscribe to one of several dozen video-pods you can download here for free. There's a directory of video blogs here, one for audio here and another for the written word here.

The Video Activist Network is an informal association of activists and artists who use video to support social, economic and environmental justice. You can download all kinds of fascinating productions from them. Similarly, EnviroLink is a non-profit grassroots online community that unites hundreds of organizations and volunteers who provide a comprehensive, up-to-date environmental information and news network. If you'd rather read, UTNE magazine reprints the best articles from over 2,000 alternative print media sources to bring you the latest ideas and trends.



" There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist.." Mark Twain

" Don't give up at half time. Concentrate on winning the second half." - Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

" Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare." -Japanese proverb

" Power may justly be compared to a great river; while kept within its bounds it is both beautiful and useful, but when it overflows its banks, it is then too impetuous to be stemmed; it bears down all before it, and brings destruction and desolation wherever it comes." - Andrew Hamilton

" Love leads me one way, understanding another." - Ovid

" Power intoxicates men. It is never voluntarily surrendered. It must be taken from them." - James F. Byrnes



In those olden times when America was home to mighty shamans and to sorcerers with great powers, a man laid his net across a river and, after a time, had caught a lot of fish.

As he was drawing in his net, a raven came and sat near him. It looked really hungry so the man threw it a fish. The raven ate it with joy and as soon as it finished, it surprised the man by speaking: "I am very grateful for the fish and I invite to come and visit my father who is very wise so that he can also thank you."

The man agreed to go andthe raven flew ahead while the man followed on foot. After they had traveled a long way, they came to a large house in a clearing in the dark woods. As soon as they arrived, the raven entered the house and the man followed. When he peered into the darkness, he saw a human form appear, and he was sure that he was in the presence of a mighty sorcerer. The sorcerer slowly spoke: " I am very grateful to you for feeding my daughter with fish, She has you brought here so that I can reward you."

Then the sorcerer reached into a large sack and produced a gold-coloured wolf cub and a silver-coloured one and handed both of them to the man. The sorcerer said: "I give you these wolf cubs as you will greatly benefit from them. Feed them well for you will find that the gold pup excretes pure gold and the silver one excretes silver. You need only sell the excrement and you will be greatly enriched."

Thanking him again, the sorcerer, with respectful salutations, dismissed the man and sent him on his way with the cubs. As soon as he found his way home, the man fed the wolf cubs a little food. Then the gold pup excreted gold and the silver pup excreted silver and the man got very rich when he sold the excrement as precious metals.

Asking that man about his newfound wealth and receiving truth for his questions, another man stretched his net across the river and caught a good quantity of fish in turn. The raven came again and sat, looking hungry. So this man took a small fish that was covered with mud, and threw it to the bird. The raven flew off with it and so the man followed and, after walking a considerable distance, reached the same large house in the dark woods.

That man rushed in and found a very angry old man who told him: "You have a very cold heart. You gave my daughter a fish, covered with mud. I am very angry but I will still reward you for feeding her. I'll give you some wolf cubs and if you treat them properly, you will greatly benefit."

Then he reached into a sack, produced a gold pup and a silver pup and handed them to the man, telling him of their magic. The man was grateful and he bowed as he took them, then backed out of the house and turned to rush home.

Once home, the man locked the cubs in a small room and then sat at his table and thought: " It would be foolish to have such animals excrete only a little at a time so I'll feed them plentifully so they excrete plenty of metal. Ah - soon I'll be very rich."

Acting on his plan, that second man fed the pups plenty of anything, including old meat, rotting vegetables and other dirty things. Unlike the first man who fed his pups on nothing but the finest food, a little at a time, and who was greatly rewarded, the second fellow's wolf cubs became ill and began excreting dung, great quantities of dung. Soon that man's house was full of the foul dirt.

The point of my story is that, even in those ancient times anyone who wanted to be rich could achieve the wish if his or her heart was pure. And as far as cold-hearted people go, the gods are so angered by their misdeeds, they arranged for their house to be filled with dung so as to be too dirty for good people to enter. This being said, we should never be cold-hearted.


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