Dave’s PowerPoint Rules

Give great presentations by following these simple PowerPoint rules:

  • Don’t use it
  • If you absolutely must use it – use pictures, no words
  • If you have to use words, no more than six words per slide
  • No music
  • No animations
  • No fade-outs, swipes or similar effects
  • Bullet lists belong on the paper you are reading from, not on slides

Great speeches move people, great slideshows do not. If you don’t believe me, please see Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in Powerpoint form.

Art is Hard

Once long ago, vcialis 40mg hospital I loved to draw. I would spend hours by myself in my room, ask pharmacy huddled over my desk turning out a stream of drawings of war, monsters, and other fantastic scenes.

My family was always drilling economy into me. So, in pursuit of this, all of my drawings were rendered torturously small. I would see how many people I could cram into the scene on a vast battlefield. I did this to save on paper. Also, it made it less likely people would see my mistakes.

Because mistakes were all I saw when I would draw and they drove me wild with rage. Accepting of my limitations I was not. Heads too big, legs too short, hands like lumps of clay – there were many times I would shriek aloud and tear up my work with my own hands. At one points I slammed my pencil into the desk in frustration and lodged the broken lead tip deep into the fat part of my hand.

Over time I chilled out and was less harsh on myself. I decided to silence the inner critic, not hold myself up to a perfect standard and let mistakes happen. And instead of beating myself up over them, I would accept mistakes and learn from them. I showed a lot of improvement when I made this leap in maturity.

Because that is the pain of art, of creating something great. To sit at a desk and make something worthwhile is daunting. Writers call it “writer’s block” when they can’t rise up to the challenge. And I can imagine painters think “God, I hope I don’t fuck this up” when they start painting.

It takes many hours of trying and failing at art to get good. It’s painful to look at work you’ve done earlier and think “God, that is such crap. What was I thinking?” But those moments when you fall into a groove and create something worth looking at, reading, using, or listening to – those are moments of pure ecstasy and it makes it all worth it.

Take the Long View

Recently I read an article that noted the song “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses was written in five minutes. According to the article, order a throwaway piece from a junk website, medicine Guns N’ Roses’ guitarist Slash was noodling around on a guitar and, recipe bam, a hit was born. And I thought, “What a horrible way to perceive this event.”

Of course it took Slash five minutes to write this song, it took him twenty years to learn how to play it. Left unnoticed are the hours, days, and years he spent practicing. Left unnoticed are the hours of observation and tutelage from more skilled guitarists. Left unnoticed are the support and encouragement of friends and family. Left unnoticed are the patience and discipline required of all great successes. And left unnoticed are the years he spent laboring in quiet obscurity and the moments he spent in despair.

Thinking it took five minutes to write a monster hit like “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is like watching a chicken hatch from an egg and to logically infer that the chicken was created in this one master stroke. To do so would be to disregard the months of incubation that preceded the event.

There is an intrinsic appeal to the mindset that it only takes a couple minutes of inspiration to create some enormous hit. It makes it democratic, all easily within our grasp if only, if only, we could get a couple minutes to get in touch with our muse. Given our obsession with convenience and time-saving technology, we like things that are easy. But this fantasy runs counter to reality. Big success in any field, outside of playing the lottery or becoming an internet meme, requires a massive investment of time and energy with no guarantee of success.

So I wonder if the people who flood YouTube with hateful and derisive comments have any concept of what is involved in producing the things they consume. Or how scary it is to take the stage in front of strangers. I don’t think they do. Real artists and successful people are aware of the work involved and know that this kind of commenting is a dead end. And they instead spend more time learning from and encouraging others.

Last year I went to see a Metallica cover band at a local goth club. Whatever you think of their music, it’s hard to deny the technical virtuosity required to play it. And this band brought it that night. In a performance recorded by no one, played by a band that is unlikely to sell millions of records, this band brought a crowd to their feet on a crowded dance floor.

At the end of the show I walked up to the guitarist, extended my hand and said, “You guys put on a great show.” His eyes lit up, he shook my hand and let out a relieved, “Thank you, that means a lot.”

The Waiter Rule and The Asshole Tax

There are a couple of rules I abide by. One is known as The Waiter Rule. The other is known as The Asshole Tax.

The Waiter Rule is simple. It states you can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat a waiter. If someone is nice to you but an asshole to the waiter, nurse chances are strong that the person is an asshole. And I say this not just because I once worked as a waiter.

People who abuse people in powerless positions (ie. waiters) are nice selectively. And how they treat others is determined by their relative standing on the power totem pole. They kiss up to those in power and kick down on those below them. The wise are wary of these people. I sometimes think of The Waiter Rule as a powerful tool for rooting out untrustworthy people.

The other rule is less a rule and more a concept. It is known as The Asshole Tax.

The Asshole Tax is the idea that assholes pay a hidden tax for being assholes. The Asshole Tax is the charge enacted on assholes by the abused waiters of the world. And true assholes have no idea it exists.

Let me give you an example, sales as documented in “The No Asshole Rule” – the bestseller that introduced me to the concept. The author once observed a man verbally abusing an airline ticket agent at the front desk. Despite his screaming and shouting, pills the woman remained unperturbed. Her cool was admirable. After the man had left, the author asked her how she kept her composure in the face of such rage.

She answered, “He’s going to San Francisco and his luggage is now going to Nairobi.”

This is industry standard. When a woman in my mother’s neighborhood demanded her shrubs trimmed, the handyman yawned and didn’t lift a finger. But when my mother asked him nicely for a new flower box, he made her one without charge.

And, ask any lawyer, people don’t sue doctors they like. The disliked ones are the ones who get slapped with malpractice cases. Given the large cost of malpractice cases, The Asshole Tax can be a very heavy burden.

The irony in all this? Assholes often think they are successful because of their asshole ways. They have no idea of the hidden charges they incur on a regular basis. I love it.