Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thoughts from Niagara Falls

Yesterday I returned from a week-long trip to Toronto, Canada.  A highlight of the trip for me was a visit to Niagara Falls.  The falls themselves are located on the American side of the Niagara River, so the best view is from the Canadian side.  Before leaving the area, I visited one of the many gift shops in the area.

I purchased a book entitled, It Happened At Niagara, a collection of stories about 78 famous and infamous visitors to Niagara Falls.  These visitors ranged from Father Louis Hennepin, the first European to see the falls in 1678, to Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana.

Charles Dickens, author of A Christmas Carol, visited Niagara Falls in 1842.  He was accompanied by his wife, Kate, and his maid, Anne.  Charles described his feelings:  "I never in my life was in such a state of excitement" and referred to the falls as a "tremendous spectacle" and a "peaceful eternity."  His maid, Anne, felt differently about their visit and summed it up this way:  "It's nothing but water and too much of that!"

My father used to say "Opinions are like belly buttons:  everyone has one and they're all different."  There are several variations of this simile, but this is a clean one! 

Remember that your positive outlook or view of a situation may be different than that of other people.  You might have just made the best presentation in your life and there may still be people who didn't connect with your message.  There will always be people who believe in you and those who don't.  Nurture relationships with those who support you.  For those who don't, identify what you can learn to improve yourself and your message ... and then move on. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How to Win Friends & Influence People

In 1912, the same year the Titanic sank, a young teacher began offering courses in human relations and communications at the YMCA in New York City.  His approach was to teach and demonstrate everyday skills rather than formal speech tips that did not translate into the real world of communication.  Over time, Dale Carnegie revised and improved his curriculum.  A significant part of his content can be found in How to Win Friends and Influence People.  This is an essential book to read and reread many times.

The book is comprised of 30 principles organized into four sections:  Fundamental techniques for handling people, Six ways to make people like you, How to win people to your way of thinking, and Changing people effectively as a leader.  Each principle is illustrated with numerous stories, either experienced personally by Dale Carnegie or based on his extensive study of historical figures.  Though some stories are dated, the principles are timeless and will improve how you communicate with others.

The first nine principles are:
  1. Don't criticize, condemn, or complain.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.
  4. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  5. Smile.
  6. Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  7. Be a good listener.
  8. Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
  9. Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.
You can download a free copy of Dale Carnegie's Secrets of Success booklet from  This small booklet contains the principles from How to Win Friends and Influence People and How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.  A free iPhone app is also available at the iTunes store.