Since the first day I made a speech in public, I’ve done everything I can think of to become better. My obsession started with my first talk — I was so nervous about presenting to a live audience that I wanted whatever help I could get before I made a fool of myself. Since then I’ve attended classes and seminars, watched every good speaker I can find, and read every single book on speaking I can get my hands on.
One of the apocryphal presentation tips that you hear from almost every authority is to never follow children or puppies. But unless your speech is going to be on The Ed Sullivan Show, I’m not sure where you’d find speakers that fit that bill. Still, the old adage is repeated over and over. So to help all my fellow speakers, and any of you who may find yourself on a dais one day, let me add that along with kids and pets, you should never follow Dan Jansen.
I’m lucky enough to know Dan because we share a client. Dan is their director of health and fitness and I’m responsible for their branding. So Dan and I have traveled together, making presentations to our client’s potential partners and sponsors.
Dan is a speed skater, Olympic gold medal winner, world record holder, and was NBC’s winter sportscaster. Maybe you remember Dan doing his victory lap in Lillehammer holding his daughter, Jane, in his arms. If you do, I’m sure you’re getting goose bumps just thinking about it. Today Dan is a successful businessman, great parent, and incredibly handsome to boot. Dan’s beautiful wife Karen is no slouch either. Besides being sweet as honey, Karen runs a successful cardio-fitness business and is a nationally ranked LPGA golf pro.
So you can imagine my dismay at our last client presentation when I was scheduled to introduce myself directly after Dan.
Besides everything I’ve already told you about Dan, he’s also very humble. Still, Dan’s accomplishments speak for themselves and his introduction sounds something like this: “Hi. I’m Dan Jansen. I’m a four-time Olympiad and gold medal winner. I’m also the winter sports commentator for NBC.”
Then it’s my turn. “Hi, I’m Bruce Turkel. I run a brand management firm and write books and speak on creativity and branding. But next to Dan, I got nothin’.”
I was never a big Seinfeld fan but someone described it to me as a show about nothing. The characters would meet and talk, and everyone would get worked up, but ultimately nothing would happen. And yet Seinfeld was one of the most popular shows on TV.
So speaking of nothin’, that’s how I feel about this week’s blog post. While this blog has been up for about six years, it was only in the last two years that I found my voice and started the discipline of writing something meaningful every single week. I try to write about my observations of what’s going on in marketing and advertising and what’s going on in my head. And I’m pretty proud of the fact that I haven’t missed a deadline yet.
But when I pulled my laptop out on American Airlines flight #1841 to write this blog post, the well was dry. It’s not as if there wasn’t anything happening over the past few weeks to write about, mind you. Steve Jobs died. Netflix screwed the pooch and destroyed their business model and stock price. We introduced a fantastic new Norman Rockwell-inspired ad campaign for our client MetCare. My daughter got her first college acceptance letter. The Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s about to celebrate its 25th anniversary with incredible results. My son announced that he’ll graduate with two degrees. I’ve got speaking gigs in Tucson, Houston, Toronto, and Mallorca. Both Chris Christie and Sarah Palin announced that they would not be running for president. My wife planted her organic vegetable garden. All grist for the mill.
But I still got nothin’.
Sometimes I think that like Seinfeld, nothing is what my blog is actually about. My thoughts and opinions about what’s going on are just another part of the ongoing conversation of current events, digital technology, marketing, branding, and life that mostly slip by unnoticed.
Maybe that’s the way it should be. Because if the 24-hour news cycle and always-on digital technology has turned all of us into instant gratification, ADD media junkies, feverishly mainlining data 24/7, then making some sense of all this stuff swirling around us is a valuable endeavor. So if you’ll keep reading, I’ll keep watching and thinking and speaking and writing. And I’ll keep presenting with Dan Jansen. Even if I got nothin’.