JCL Blog

Vic Maui on Google Maps (How to put Lat Lon data onto Maps)

This year I have some friends racing their sailboat to Hawaii.  The nine boat fleet left Victoria over the weekend and they should be there within two weeks.  This kind of thing is more fun than ever to track with the new web enabled tools available.  The race committee is posting the lat and lon and standings each day on the official web site.  The numbers are fun to look at, but not as revealing as a map.  

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to figure out how to put this information onto a map.  It took me an hour or so to figure out, and I think I can update it daily in about 10 minutes.  Here are the steps:

  1. Use the web import tool in Excel to scrape the data off of the web site.   (Exel 2010, Data Tab, From Web...follow instructions -- very easy)
  2. Build some formulas in Excel to format the data to be read by EarthPoint.  (combine the data imported, label columns -- also very easy)
  3. Use EarthPoint to import the spreadsheet and create a KML file that can be read by Maps or Earth.  (just follow the instructions -- also very easy.  Hardest part is deciding on the types of Icons.)
  4. Create a MyMap in Google Maps.  (Go to maps.google.com, My Maps, Create New Map, Edit, Import, follow instructions).  I did this step a few times until I got the thing to look like I wanted.  
  5. Get Link to embed or email around.  (just click on the Link button on the top right corner).

Here are the results embedded: 

View 2010 Vic Maui in a larger map

Public Speaking: Authenticity

Authenticity contributes more than anything else to audience satisfaction.  You can be authentic and have a very satisfied audience and not get your message across, for that see my other posts on how to structure your presentation.  If you want your audience to be engaged, talk about how great you were, recommend you to others, and come back to hear you again, you have to be authentic.

By authentic I mean be yourself.  Put some of yourself into your presentation and do it in a way that adds to your message.  Here are four ideas for doing this:

  1. Talk about what you did:  The hypothetical example is really not very interesting and will cause people to tune out.  Make your illustrations actual experiences, talk about what you were thinking when you tried this or that, talk about how your perspective changed as you had the experience.  Talk about what you would do differently next time.  Don’t leave out the parts that make you look bad.
  2. Don’t have all of the answers:  Shine a light on the things you don’t know, the things you are still trying to solve, solicit input from the audience.
  3. Get others to tell their stories:  Bring someone else up on the stage with you or ask for examples from the audience.  This will break up your part of the presentation and disrupt the scriptedness of its appearance.
  4. Clearly state your intentions:  If it is not clear where you are coming from, make it clear so people don’t have to guess or spend their time trying to prove our their suspicions.  If you are selling something – say so.  If you are not selling something – say that. Make it clear and don’t try to slide something in.

Right now I am at an industry conference and have had the chance to listen to over a dozen speakers in the last 24 hours.  By far the best presentation was by Sandy Carter from IBM.  Clearly she does a great deal of speaking in her job and while promoting her books.  She had the audience right from the beginning because she was telling real world stories and explaining what she learned.  Clearly she is an expert, but she also freely admits that she is learning along the way.  She took questions and was humble when discussing issue that had no real answer or when she had not landed on one yet.

We should all work to be more like Sandy when we speak.

On Speaking: Pay or Get Paid at Conferences

"I would never wanna belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member."

-Woody Allen who attributed it to both Groucho Marx and Freud

Have you ever met someone who said: "I only go to conferences if they pay me to speak."  It is undoubtedly not as common as getting to speak for free, and there are many conferences that charge the speakers for access to the audience.  Simply, if you draw enough people, you can get paid to speak at a conference. 

There is another similar thing going on at conferences placing people along a continuum between efficiently seeing people you already know and meeting new people.  If you need to get caught up with a number of people in an industry, doing so at an event can save you a great deal of time. If it is an important part of your job to interact with partners or suppliers -- it can be a good idea to batch up those activities at an event.

I submit that unless you make a living on the speaking circuit (promoting your book for example) it would be best to attend events where you meet new people and properly targetted it just might make sense to pay for the privilege.


On Speaking: Three Points

So far we have talked about The Frame, where you get your audience onto the same page with you, and The Take Away, where you attempt to actually deliver a message.  This post will dig into the main points of your presentation.  I propose that three points is the right number.  There is no real magic to this because there are many examples of effective speeches with some other number of points.  With three you have a chance that someone in the audience will actually be able to remember your points and use them to reconstruct your argument.

Just like with the Tell Tell Tell structure we talked about, the challenge is to reconcile the conflict between the need to be entertaining and the need to be repetitive enough to make your point.  When you launch into a presentation and say you have three points there are several traps waiting for you:


  • Trap 1:  Too predictable:  Some people are going to immediately think that your talk is going to be over structured and boring.  After all, most presentations have three points and by saying yours does too you risk being lumped in with the worst of them.  Sometimes I make a comment about this by saying something about it like: "Three points may sound boring, but it's better than five!"
  • Trap 2:  Hard to follow:  Once you announce the three point structure, people will work to put your talk into that structure.  So if you have sub points or anything else that would confuse the counting, you may end up with some distracted people wondering if you are on point 2 or 3.  It is a good idea to tie your comments back to your structure often with reminders of what the first point was during the second point and a looking into the future about the third point that is on the way.
  • Trap 3:  The points must support your argument:  Anecdotes, asides, tangents, counter arguments, and other conventions have their way of sneaking into your presentation.  Making these into points in your talk will dilute your effectiveness. When using these types of items -- which are often highly entertaining -- it is a good idea to change your tone, walk to a different part of the stage, turn off the visuals, or anything to indicate that this is a break in the action.  And make sure that they are not the main points, but illustrations that bring your points to life.  After delivering one of these, you can then get everyone back onto your structure by saying:  "Ok, so back to our list" and then review the progress so far.


I highly recommend using three points for the reasons I listed above.  Many of the great presentations I have seen follow this structure.  The other day I saw an incredible use of this convention.  The speaker started by saying I am here to tell you about three numbers: X, Y, and Z.  He did not say he had three points, just that he was going to talk about three numbers, and he gave the numbers without any context.  So he had set up his three points without sounding too conventional.  He then proceeded to circle around the three numbers, adding information to each one.  I visualized it like building three stacks of something, say quarters.  Imagine a guy with a roll of quarters, he lays out three, and then he walks around them adding a quarter to each stack each time around.

By the end we knew those three numbers backwards and forwards and since they all supported his main point -- we had it down.  It was a spectacular use of a very traditional three point presentation structure.

On Speaking: The Take Away

This is the second in a series of posts about public speaking. The first was: On Speaking: The Frame. In this post I will do what I can to shape The Take Away.

There is a conflict in any presentation between the need to be entertaining, and the need to make your point. Variety is entertaining, and repitition makes a point. The trick of course is to have enough variety to keep your audience awake, but not so much as to cloud up your take away. I find it helpful to imagine myself at the exit door of the venue asking everyone to tell me the one thing they took away from my presentaiton. The goal is for them all to have taken away the same message. So we do the tell, tell, tell.

  • Tell them what you are going to tell them: Here you make your point all shiny and interesting but without all of the supporting arguments. With any luck it is also The Frame.
  • Tell them: Take your main point and support it with as many other points as you think you can get away with. Stray far enough from the point to keep it interesting. Not so far that they forget what you are talking about.
  • Tell them what you told them: Review, summarize, and remember to stick to your point. Hopefully you still have your audience, but even if they tuned out in the middle, you can still land the take away.

So forgive the overuse of a very tired addage -- but tell, tell, tell really works. Give it a try.

On Speaking: The Frame

I was asked recently to coach some young leaders on public speaking. I am looking forward to the exercise. I love to speak, and talking about speaking is about as fun as things can get. It should be a good opportunity to capture some thoughts on public speaking -- and I will do my best to post them here.

The Frame

The curse of knowing a subject well leads many public speakers to neglect to frame the subject. We all want to jump right in and get to the main point and supporting evidence, but those points will be lost without a good framing statement. A good framing statement should be one tight sentence that orients the audience. It should be strong enough to bring even the most distracted listener into your universe. It does not have to make your argument or seal the deal. After hearing the framing statement your listener knows what you are going to talk about. This is the first Tell in the Tell, Tell, Tell speaking structure.

Here are some examples of framing statements for some common speeches:

  • On a book you wrote: I did not know that I was changing my life when I wrote the first page of my book fourteen years ago.
  • On a trip you took: Mount McKinley is obscured by clouds 345 days of the year.
  • On a company you started: Like many entrepreneurs, I started my company because I wanted to be the first customer.
  • On a cause you support: Of 100 students entering high school in the Seattle Public School system, only 2 of graduate from college.

No matter how well oriented your audience was when they decided to attend your talk, at least half of them will have forgotten their own reason by the time you start to talk. So take a second to give them a good framing sentence. You just want them to think 'oh right, this is the guy that started that company'; or 'OK, we are talking about education'.

There are as many flavors of this as there are speakers, and you want your framing statement to fit your style and your situation. If you are leading a meeting you could say "This meeting is about..." If you are giving a sales presentation you could say "We are here today to present our solution to your..." If you were introduced at the podium you may need to pull people back from momentum established in the content of your bio by saying "Even though my day job is as a lawyer, I am here to speak to you today about..."

Using jokes as to frame your subject is tricky. It can be great because loosening up your audience with a joke is great fun. However if you go that route, you have to realize that you will both have to be funny and do it in the context of your subject. A funny joke that propels your audience in the wrong direction is probably not going to get you where you want to go.

Using a rhetorical question is also complicated. If you do, make sure to answer it right away -- say in the next sentence. Unresolved items like that can chew up the brain power of your audience and distract them within the presentation.

Step one of your speech should always be to get your audience into the frame with a good framing statement.