Showing my work

A few weeks back I posted my 9 step process for building  a presentation. I wanted to share some example of that process in action. What follows are glimpses of my “No person is an island” talk which I delivered at Defrag in November.

Step 1 – Finding the Nucleus

I had two quotes that served as the nucleus for this deck.

hierarchies and our love for them is the strange love child of Confucius and the military industry complex


treating people like just nodes just rows in a database is, essentially, sociopathic behavior. it ignores the reality that you, your organization, and the other person, group, or organization are connected

Step 2 – Build and outline

I use OmniOutliner for my outlines.  Here’s a PDF of it: no one is an island outline

Step 3 – Write the speech

You can read the final version here, but if you want to see the original with my notation for pictures, check this out.

Steps 4 & 5 – Skeleton Deck to Version 1 Deck

This was a bit of an unusual presentation for me in that I had material from another presentation I wanted to include. That helped get me to a more polished looking version 1 of the presentation than I usual have. Just a heads up – I usually work Keynote but to be fair to my non-Mac friends, I have posted the deck as a pdf: No person is an island v1

Steps 6 to 9 – Getting to ship the deck

I ended up doing 5 revisions to this deck. Usually I do about 10. Here’s the final version:

The Identity Philosophers Song

With all due apologies to Monty Python and specifically Eric Idle here’s the identity industry’s version of the Philosophers Song. Many thanks to everyone who helped this effort and huge thanks to Eve Maler for all her work on this. What follows is meant with much love and respect to everyone in the industry (mentioned or not). And with that… maestro please:

Jeremy Grant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable
iglazer, iglazer was a boozy beggar
who could think you under the table
Blakley whom could out-consume
Madsen, Bradley, and Dingle
Pat Patterson was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Cahill
There’s nothing Wilton couldn’t teach ya’
Bout the raising of the wrist.
Cameron himself was permanently pissed…

George Fletcher, still, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Nishant K could stick it away;
Half a crate of whiskey every day.
Patrick Harding, Patrick Harding was a bugger for white lightning
Nash was fond of his dram,
Really Dick Hardt was a drunken fart
“I drink, therefore I am”
Yes, Cameron himself is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he’s pissed!


And if none of that made sense to you, here’s the original which also might not make much sense either.

My 9 Step Process for Building a Presentation

“How do you build a presentation?” I’ve had the question asked of me a few times recently. And I’ve had enough flights recently to spend some time thinking about the answer. As I mentioned, before I could actually answer the question I had to write this other post about clarity and empathy. Go read that and then come back. With that as context, here is my stripped down process – my 9 essential steps to building a presentation.

1 – Find the nucleus

I start with a few pithy quotes or few, very few, key points. In the case of my “Killing IAM” talk, all I had was the phrase “Behold the comma.” For my more recent “No One Is An Island” what I had was “Hierarchies and our love for them is the strange love child of Confucius and the military industry complex” and “Treating people like just nodes just rows in a database is, essentially, sociopathic behavior. It ignores the reality that you, your organization, and the other person, group, or organization are connected.” What you need is just enough to grow a talk upon.

2 – Build an outline

Next up – I build an outline. The top-level items will become the sections of the talk. Under each top-level item I add just a few bullets, the essential points for that section. I’ll also add cues for visuals where I can. Sometimes I have a strong image in my mind how to illustrate a certain point, or there’ll be a joke I want to tell that requires a visual. Don’t stress over not having visual cues; they’re nice to have but by no means required to proceed to step 3.

3 – Write the speech

Yup. I write out my full talk. All of it. Write out the story that you want to tell. Hit each top-level item from the outline; make them headers. Weave the associated bullets into full sentences. Paragraphs grow from there. I will also put in parenthetical notes to myself for visuals, staging, and other things I want to remember when I present. I’ll also put in the quotes and ideas that served as my nucleus.

You might be surprised to learn but I don’t spend a ton of time of the actual writing. It takes me about an afternoon or so to write a speech. Your mileage may vary.

The text should flow. If it doesn’t, then you aren’t ready to write it. Go back to your nucleus and ask if it inspires you. Go back to your outline and look for weaknesses and holes.

As for length, I find that each page of single spaced text is about 3 to 4 minutes of talk. To get a sense for how long your text is, fire up text to speech. Time how long it takes the computer to read the text. This will give you a sense if you are in the right neighborhood lengthwise. Continue reading “My 9 Step Process for Building a Presentation”

No Person is an Island: How Relationships Make Things Better

(The basic text to my talk at Defragcon 2014. The slides I used are at the end of this post and if they don’t show up you can get them here.)

What have we done to manage people, their “things,” and how they interact with organizations?

The sad truth that we tried to treat the outside world of our customers and partners, like the inside world of employees. And we’ve done poorly at both. I mean, think about, “Treat your customers like you treat your employees” is rarely a winning strategy. If it was, just imagine the Successories you’d have to buy for your customers… on second thought, don’t do that.

We started by storing people as rows in a database. Rows and rows of people. But treating people like just a row in a database is, essentially, sociopathic behavior. It ignores the reality that you, your organization, and the other person, group, or organization are connected. We made every row, every person an island – disconnected from ourselves.

What else did we try? In the world of identity and access management we started storing people as nodes in an LDAP tree. We created an artificial hierarchy and stuff people, our customers, into it. Hierarchies and our love for them is the strange lovechild of Confucius and the military industrial complex. Putting people into these false hierarchies doesn’t help us delight our customers. And it doesn’t really help make management tasks any easier. We made every node, every person, an island – disconnected from ourselves.

We tried other things realizing that those two left something to be desired. We tried roles. You have this role and we can treat you as such. You have that role and we should treat you like this. But how many people actually do what their job title says? How many people actually meaningful job titles? And whose customers come with job titles? So, needless to say, roles didn’t work as planned in most cases.

We knew this wasn’t going to work. We’ve known since 1623. John Donne told us as much. And his words then are more relevant now than he could have possibly imagined then. Apologies to every English teacher I have ever had as I rework Donne’s words:

No one is an island, entire of itself; everyone is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, we are the less. Anyone’s death diminishes us, because we are involved in the connected world.

Continue reading “No Person is an Island: How Relationships Make Things Better”

The Only Two Skills That Matter: Clarity of Communications and Empathy

I meant to write a post describing how I build presentations, but I realized that I can’t do that without writing this one first.

I had the honor of working with Drue Reeves when I was at Burton and Gartner. Drue was my chief of research and as an agenda manager we worked closely in shaping what and how our teams would research. More importantly we got to define the kind of analysts we hired. We talked about all the kinds of skills an analyst should have. We’d list out all sorts of technical certifications, evidence of experience, and the like. But in the end, that list always reduced down to two things. If you have them, you can be successful in all your endeavors. The two most important skills someone needs to be successful in what they do are:

  • Clarity in communications
  • Empathy

Continue reading “The Only Two Skills That Matter: Clarity of Communications and Empathy”

Finding your identity (content) at Dreamforce

Dreamforce is simply a force of nature (excuse the pun.) There are more sessions (1,400+) then you could possibly attend even if you clone yourself a few times over. And that’s not even including some amazing keynotes. Needless to say there’s a ton to occupy your time when you come join us.

The Salesforce Identity team has been putting together some awesome sessions. Interested in topics such as single sign-on for mobile applications, stronger authentication, or getting more out of Active Directory? You need to check out our sessions!

I’ve put together a handy list of all of the identity and access management content at Dreamforce 14. Hope you find it helpful and I cannot wait to meet all of the Salesforce community grappling with identity management issues. Continue reading “Finding your identity (content) at Dreamforce”