Energy, Humor

Your first solar car

06.26.07 | Permalink | Comments Off on Your first solar car

Have you been feeling the pinch of the price of gasoline? Want to do something good for the environment? Well, here’s your chance…

The Solar Racer – affordable for only 10 GBP ($19)….

Solar Racer Toy Car

OK, so this entry is tongue in cheek, it’s a toy car. But boy, it sure looks like fun. If you or a loved one can’t live without a solar car, get yours here

Business, Innovation

A License to Print Money

06.24.07 | Permalink | 1 Comment
Pump It Up Party Center

Yesterday I took my daughter to a classmate’s birthday party at a place called Pump It Up. This is effectively a warehouse type space that has been divided into large rooms filled with huge inflatable toys that the kids jump in, around, on, and through. This particular location had two big rooms dedicated to the toys and one smaller room dedicated to food (pizza and cake.)

The business provided supervision in the play rooms and support in the party room following a simple plan of spending an hour in each room transitioning easily and smoothly to the next (each room is connected to the next and there is a handy rolling cubby bin for shoes and other belongings that follows along.) Gifts were collected in a tub at the entrance for the birthday guest of honor. Parallelism of up to 3 events is achieved by staggering the start time of each event by an hour, and this place was packed.

The kids had a great time – and my daughter was exhausted after 3 hours of birthday activity. It’s interesting because it’s a new idea of standardizing the child’s birthday party providing a safe place for kids to be kids. Not quite Chuck E Cheese, a more focused event driven business. It seems to be a franchise and would not surprise me a bit to see it become very large and very successful over time.

That being said, there are a few things that could use some work. The adults were bored silly, a cafe with observation windows into each play arena would be a good thing. The pizza was absolutely horrible, small increases in quality could go a long way in making the experience better. The party room at this facility was small – the space really ought to be a little bigger – commensurate with the arena’s kid capacity. When adding adults in the room, it was very tight. If you have younger children, sooner or later, you’ll end up at this place (or something like it) – one last word of wisdom, bring socks. If not, you’ll get to pony up $2.17 to buy a pair…


Travel Trials

06.22.07 | Permalink | Comments Off on Travel Trials

Writing from the lobby of the beautiful Holiday Inn Elmhurst, IL whilst waiting for the shuttle back to O’Hare. By the numbers:

  • 70 – the number of standby passengers on the delayed plane last night
  • 200 – the number of minutes the plane was delayed
  • 90 – degrees F the temperature on the airplane (AC broken)
  • 12:20am – the time I made it to the hotel
  • 3:30am – the time the bogus wakeup call rang in
  • 2 – the number of hours of sleep in the past 48 hours of time

Suffice to say, I’m grouchy.


Power Pointers

06.21.07 | Permalink | Comments Off on Power Pointers

Presenters, please, I implore you, follow some simple rules to keep your audience engaged and happy. Today, I suffered through 32 presentations from professionals in front of an audience of over 700 other professionals. Now, not everyone will be or even can be, a great presenter. But, everyone can be a competent presenter. So, in the hopes that I can help, I’ll share some very simple rules about presentations that will help keep an audience engaged in this age of mobile phones and iPods… The following lists are the do’s and do nots of presentations.


  • Have a crisp message
  • Engage your audience’s emotion in some way, early in the presentation with an image or story
  • Speak slowly and clearly, pause where appropriate, drink water if you’d like
  • Leave time for questions and answers (if that is the format)
  • Use images and pictures, the right picture is worth 1,000 words
  • Create a call to action and prepare for that throughout your presentation

Do NOT…..

  • Read your slides verbatim, your audience came to hear what is not on the slides
  • Use “eye charts” – slides with small graphs and figures
  • Read a script for your talk – if you want to submit a paper great, we’ll read it. We don’t need you to read it to us.
  • Use slides as a crutch, they’re to amplify what you have to say. You’re not there to amplify the slides.
  • Be yourself. Everyone gets nervous presenting, everyone understands. But you wouldn’t be asked to present if you didn’t have something to share. That’s what the audience wants, share it as yourself.

Over my career I’ve given thousands of presentations to audiences large and small. I still get nervous when I do it. But, remember the audience wants you to succeed and wants to hear what you have to share. The more you can be yourself the easier it is to convey the message. And please, don’t read your slides or a script, that is the most disrespectful thing you can do to an audience.

For your enjoyment, here’s a YouTube video of a comedian talking about similar topics…


New York, New York

06.20.07 | Permalink | Comments Off on New York, New York

Writing this from Gotham, The Big Apple, where I’m attending a renewable energy financing workshop (if you’re interested in content from there, visit the Montara Energy Ventures site where you’ll see some postings shortly.) It’s pretty warm here (and has recently started to rain.)

The conference is in the Waldorf Astoria, now a Hilton property. It’s a grand old building, the rooms are spacious, but somewhat run down. There is a great curry place on 46th St and Lexington called Darbar Indian (not Joy Indian virtually next door.) Had a very hot lamb vindaloo dish last night after a 12 hour door to door trip yesterday on airplanes and taxis. An aside, I could have made it to Europe with time on airplane yesterday, 3 hours on ground hold in Chicago due to weather. Yuck.

In any case, American Airlines ought to be making a profit. The planes I’ve been on are overbooked and the airports are choked with people. There doesn’t seem to be much elasticity in capacity right now, they’re running as close to 100% (at least on these routes) as I’ve seen. It doesn’t make travel comfortable or efficient. That’s all for now, back in SFO late Thursday pm.

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