The Riddle of Experience vs. Memory

April 15, 2016.
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Daniel Kahneman
The Riddle of Experience vs. Memory:
Why we make “wrong” decisions

Daniel Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his pioneering work in behavioural economics—exploring why we make irrational decisions about risk.

Kahneman, Professor Emeritus at Princeton and considered one of the world’s most influential contemporary psychologists, was the first non-economist by profession to win the Nobel Economics Prize.

TED 2010 3.2M views on

In his TED talk Kahneman provides many examples from daily-life to illustrate why most of us, consistently, make decisions and choices which are not rational—in other words, the “wrong” decisions—when analyzed more closely.

The answer to this paradox is partly related to our experiencing selves, i.e. how we actually experience something—and our remembering selves, i.e how we remember what we experienced—which according to Kahneman are two very different entities. And in his talk he reveals which one of the two entities actually determines our decisions.

Kahneman has also written a fascinating and engaging book on how we think and what influences our thinking—Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011).

160415 D Kahneman Thinking, Fast and Slow

Despite being published 5 years ago, the book remains (February 2016) a No.1 Best Seller on Amazon in 3 different categories, and in the Top 100 best-selling books among all Amazon books—strong testimony to its captivating content.

The book draws on decades of research in psychology and which ultimately led to Kahneman’s Nobel Prize. As Kahneman describes in his book, we all have two types of thinking—which he simply calls System 1 and System 2 thinking.

System 1 is fast, intuitive and emotional; which we need to avoid major risks and escape danger.
System 2 is slow, deliberate, and logical; which we need to accomplish more complex tasks and make better decisions.

In theory we should use System 2 most of the time, as it is the most powerful and better thinking tool—unless faced with imminent danger. However, in practice, our thinking patterns are more complex and intertwined—with System 1 thinking often significantly influencing our decision making without us being aware of it.

By learning more about how we think, and the benefits of slow thinking—it is Kahneman’s contention that we can all significantly improve our decision making and therefore ultimately our results and performance.

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Making Ideas Happen

April 8, 2016.
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Scott Belsky: Making Ideas Happen

Scott Belsky. Entrepreneur, author, investor. Adobe Vice President of Products and Head of Behance, an online collaboration and showcase platform for creative professionals.  Co-founder and CEO of Behance, established in 2006, until acquired by Adobe in 2012.

Investor in and advisor to Pinterest, Uber, and other companies and author of Making Ideas Happen (2011)

160408 S Belsky Making Ideas Happen

Why do most ideas never happen?  And how can creative professionals become more productive? These questions are the key focus in this featured TED talk by Scott Belsky—questions he also addressed in his best-selling book Making Ideas Happen.  Apart from the very interesting content and effective delivery of his presentation, it is also an excellent example of well-designed and well-chosen selected slides to illustrate his talk.

“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen”—says Belsky, also reciting Thomas Edison’s famous quote—genius is one percent inspiration and 99% perspiration.

TEDxPugetSound 2011

So how can we make more ideas happen? To try to answer this question Belsky examined the processes of famous teams at Disney, Google and other companies—as well as highly creative and productive individuals such as Seth Godin, John Maeda, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), and others—and their methods for overcoming obstacles between vision and reality.

To help creative people execute their ideas and become more productive Belsky co-founded the Behance site in 2006. Since 2012 owned by Adobe, this online platform is now used by millions of people to showcase and discover creative work—and to track and find top talent across creative industries.

In his book Belsky also tries to help answer a question many aspiring entrepreneurs may have: How do you decide which idea is worth committing 5-10 years of your life to build?

If you are creative and have good ideas, but struggle to get them executed, it is well worth investing some time in reading his book and you will also find interesting and useful information on his own Web site:

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

How to Truly Listen

April 1, 2016.
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Evelyn Glennie:
How to Truly Listen

Evelyn Glennie, DBE. World-renowned Grammy-winning percussionist and composer. Despite becoming almost completely deaf at the age of 12, she established herself as one of the world’s top percussionists—a remarkable achievement.

TED2003   3.6M views on

Born in Scotland, Glennie started losing her hearing from age 8—and was profoundly deaf by the time she turned 12. The loss of hearing helped her gain an even deeper understanding of music, and she developed a very keen sense of sound and listening—using all senses of her body, and usually performs barefoot for that reason.

Having performed in more than 40 countries and recorded 28 albums, Glennie has had an extensive solo career—as well as having collaborated with other musicians from classical symphony orchestras to singer-icon Bjork. She is also a composer and has composed music for film and television.

160401 E Glennie Rebounds

In the process she has won two Grammy Awards, received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1993 and in 2007 became Dame Commander of the British Empire in recognition of her achievements and contributions to music.

In her unique and engaging TED talk she also demonstrates some of her extraordinary musical talents.

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Asia’s Rise – How and When

March 25, 2016.
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‘Master Data Presenter’ Hans Rosling:
Asia’s Rise—How and When

Hans Rosling. Medical doctor, statistician and Professor of Global Health at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. Co-founder of Medecins sans Frontiers Sweden. Co-founder and Chairman of Gapminder Foundation which developed the Trendanalyzer software system.

Did you ever have to give a presentation containing large amounts of data, where you struggled to engage the audience and get your message across? If so, you may want to study some of Hans Rosling’s TED presentations for ideas and tips on how to bring your data to life.

Hans Rosling is one of the most popular and frequent TED speakers, having presented 10 TED talks at various TED conferences so far—watched by millions. His first TED talk—The best stats you’ve ever seen, with over 10 million views—was also one of the very first 6 TED talks to be made available online when was launched in 2006.

In this featured TED talk, he examines the rise of Asia and predicts the exact date when China and India will surpass the U.S. as the world’s economic super powers.

TEDIndia 2009     1.6M views on

Rosling has become famous for his highly engaging and captivating presentations of data and how he brings out the big picture of the data in a way unsurpassed by speakers before him. If you have not watched him before, you have probably never seen data presented in the way he does.

He even developed his own software, Trendalyzer, to present stunning and very effective data visuals. You can download a free copy of this for global health data on the Gapminder World web site (Wealth & Health of Nations):

In 2010 he helped create and present a documentary entitled Joy of Stats, which was broadcast by the BBC—and which you can watch on this Web link:

He is also the co-author of Global Health (2006), a book about global health and the first of its kind—endorsed by Bill Gates, who purchased 200 copies of the book for all his staff at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  In 2014 Rosling appeared on stage together with Bill Gates to present and debate global health issues.

Rosling is a fascinating speaker to watch and his presentations have become legendary—and if you ever experienced a boring presentation with lots of data, or gave one yourself—then have a look at Rosling’s presentations and see how it can and should be done!

Enjoy and learn from the Master Data Presenter!

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

How to Get Your Ideas to Spread

March 18, 2016.
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How to Get Your Ideas to Spread

Seth Godin. Author, entrepreneur, marketing pioneer, public speaker.  Founder and former CEO of and Former VP of Direct Marketing at Yahoo! He has a degree in Computer Science and Philosophy from Tufts University, and an MBA from Stanford Business School. Ranked among the leading global management thinkers on the 2015 Thinkers50 list.

What does it take to create and sell something remarkable? How do you get your ideas spread? These issues have been and remain at the heart of Godin’s professional career and writing—and are also the focus of his featured TED talk here. As he says, “boring stuff quickly becomes invisible.”

Besides his many writing and entrepreneurial achievements, Seth Godin is a much sought after public speaker, with several appearances on the TED platform—and he was named as one of the Top 21 Speakers for the 21st Century by Successful Meeting Magazine.

In this TED talk, he exhibits many of the features of great speakers—including his extensive use of stories, well selected and designed slides, and use of humour to make his talk engaging and memorable.

TED 2003 4.5M views on

Seth Godin is the author of 18 books, including Tribes (2008) and Linchpin (2010)—both Amazon, New York Times and Business Week bestsellers. He is the pioneer of a number of marketing concepts—in particular Permission Marketing, an idea and term he introduced in his book Permission Marketing (1999). “Permission marketing,” Godin explains, “is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.”

His articles and books, translated into 35 languages, are widely read and quoted—and his blog is the world’s most read business blog, according to Greater Talent Network, Inc., a leading global speakers bureau.

Here is his own website where you can also access his blog:

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Fifteen Phrases for Continued Growth in Speaking

March 11, 2016.
Craig Valentine:
15 Phrases for Continued Growth in Speaking

Wisdom and growth come from reflection—so too if you want to become a better speaker. Here are 15 phrases by Craig Valentine, World Champion of Public Speaking and founder of the World Class Speaking method.

These are phrases often used when he is coaching speakers—encouraging them not only to read them, but also reflect on them.

1.    Tease them before you tell them.
2.    Too many speakers try to get across too much information in too little time.
3.    What gets recorded gets rewarded.
4.    When you lift yourself up, you let your audience down.
5.    Tap into their world before you transport them into yours.
6.    Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.
7.    Turn their pain into your promise.
8.    Don’t add humor; uncover it.
9.    What’s loose is lost.
10.   Speak to one but look to all.
11.    You can’t have an effect if they don’t reflect.
12.   Don’t memorize, internalize.
13.   Sell the belief before the relief.
14.   Squeeze too much information in, and you squeeze your audience out.
15.   Tell a story and make a point.

As Craig says, “do the reflection work—it will pay off!”

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

How New Technology Helps Blind People

March 4, 2016.
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Chieko Asakawa:
How New Technology Helps Blind People Explore the World

Chieko Asakawa is a blind Japanese computer scientist and visionary inventor at IBM, with a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Tokyo. At the age of 14 she became blind due to a swimming pool accident.  Despite such a severe setback, she went on to become an award-winning computer scientist—making major technology contributions to help blind people explore the world.  And she is now also a TED speaker.

Although only released on the Web relatively recently, her talk has already attracted over 800,000 views on  It is a highly inspiring and compelling talk, a story of extraordinary determination and achievement—about communicating and interacting without vision.

TED@IBM October 15, 2015

Driven by a keen desire to be independent of help from other people, a lead question in Asakawa’s life and career has been: How can we easily access products and information without using the sense of vision to communicate and interact?

In 2009 she became an IBM Fellow, the highest honour for IBM employees—as the first Japanese woman and first blind engineer—and one of only 218 employees having received this honour in the company’s century-old history.

She joined IBM in 1985 and her first breakthrough invention was the IBM Home Page Reader, a self-voicing Web browser opening up access to the Internet for blind people—which was a “revolutionary moment for the blind” as Asakawa says in her TED talk.  It became one of the most widely used browsers of its kind—and Asakawa and her team at IBM later pioneered a number of other technologies to help visually impaired people.

One of these technologies is the aiBrowser which helps visually impaired users access streaming video, animation and other visual online content.

Most recently Asakawa has been working with a team at Carnegie Mellon University to develop a smartphone app whereby blind and other visually impaired people can move around indoors and outdoors by themselves.

The app will inform the user by synthesized voice what it sees in the user’s surroundings, and not only be able to recognize people that the user knows, but also their mood, by recognizing their facial expressions – an important feature for social interaction if you are blind. A brief demonstration of this app is shown during her TED talk.

An inspiring story of an exceptional individual.

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Lead With a Story

February 26, 2016.
Why Tell Stories?

Stories Inspire and Engage—
Slides, Data and Bullet Points Don’t

Have you ever experienced a presentation overloaded with slides, lots of data and long lists of bullet points?  Did you find it interesting and memorable? Probably not. More likely, terribly boring and forgettable.

However, you don’t need to repeat the same mistake.

A powerful tool to make your presentations and marketing talks more inspiring and memorable is telling stories.

If you want to understand storytelling in the wider context of business and why it is so effective, you are recommended to read Lead with a Story–a book by Paul Smith (2012).

160226 P Smith Lead With A Story

Paul Smith lists a number of reasons why you should use stories in your business talks and presentations. Some key ones:

•    Stories inspire. Slides don’t.
•    Stories engage your audience.
•    Stories appeal to all kinds of learners.
•    Stories make your audience remember.

In the book we learn that facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they are part of a story–quoting New York University psychologist Jerome Bruner.

According to the book’s introduction, at Nike, all senior executives are designated “corporate storytellers.” And 3M banned bullet points years ago and replaced them with a process of writing “strategic narratives.”

To illustrate its key points, the book is packed with real stories from the business world–from companies like Xerox, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Nokia, Braun, and others.

A central principle of the book is the importance of storytelling for leadership–‘great leaders tell great stories’.

Next time you give a speech or presentation–Lead with a Story!

Trond Varlid

* Paul Smith, Lead with a Story. AMACOM Books 2012.

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

The Skill of Self Confidence

February 19, 2016.
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Ivan Joseph:
The Skill of Self Confidence

Are you nervous when speaking in front of a group? If you are, you are in good company—as this is one of the most frequently mentioned problems people cite when it comes to public speaking—and even speaking in front of a group at your own company. How to become more confident?

One way is to learn from other fields—for example, from the world of sports and sports psychology—as in this featured talk at TEDxRyerson by Ivan Joseph, acclaimed coach and sports psychologist, Ph.D. in Sports Psychology, Athletics Director and award-winning coach at Ryerson University, which lays claim to have one of Canada’s top athletics programs.

According to him confidence is a skill that anyone can learn, not an innate ability reserved for only a small elite group of people. In addition to interesting insights from sports he also provides specific advice on ways to build your self-confidence.

TEDxRyerson 2012     6.0M views on YouTube

There are several other ways to become a more confident speaker. One, of course, is through practice—which you can maximize by always taking, and even seeking out, any opportunity to speak in front of a small or large group of people.

Another is to learn how to create well-structured and powerful presentations, and effective speaking techniques to engage your audience. Knowing that you possess such tools, and practicing them—will help make you feel more confident when you stand up to speak and present.

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Why Some TED Talks Get Millions of Views – Part 2

February 12, 2016.
New Study:
Why Some TED Talks Get Millions of Views, Others Very Few
Part 2

(Part 1 of this article appeared last week, February 5)

Why some TED talks (at get millions of views was the question Vanessa van Edwards, body language trainer and founder of, set out to investigate in a study published in March 2015 by Huffington Post.

A 4-minute video summary of the study by Vanessa van Edwards can be found by clicking the YouTube image below.

The study, in which 760 people participated and rated a number of selected TED speakers on various criteria, resulted in 5 key findings:

1. It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It
Different groups of survey participants were asked to rate the TED speakers with and without sound—and found that there was no difference in ratings between people who watched talks on mute and people who watched talks with sound.

Bottom Line: Focus on your nonverbal just as much as your verbal.

2. More Hand Gestures Make for a More Successful Talk
Following up the finding above, the researchers looked for specific nonverbal patterns that the most viewed TED talks had that were different from the least viewed TED talks. This revealed the more hand gestures, the more successful the talk. There was a direct correlation between the number of views on a TED talk and the number of hand gestures.

Speakers who use hand gestures are speaking to their audience on 2 levels-verbally and nonverbally.

Bottom Line: To be a good speaker, let your hands do the talking.

3. Scripts Kill Your Charisma
Nonverbal communication isn’t just about body language, it is also about your voice dynamics. The study found that the more vocal variety a speaker had, the more views their talks had. And vocal variety increased the speaker’s charisma and credibility ratings. One way to improve vocal variety is by telling stories and avoid using and reading from a script.

Bottom Line: Memorized lines and scripts kill your memorability.

4. Smiling Makes You Look Smarter
This finding was somewhat of a surprise to the researchers. The research found that the longer a TED speaker smiled, the higher their perceived intelligence ratings were. Those who smiled for at least 14 seconds were rated as higher in intelligence than those who smiled for less.

Bottom Line: No matter how serious your topic, find something to smile about.

5. You Have 7 Seconds

As we also mentioned in Part 1, this study was in line with previous research by Stanford Professor Nalini Ambady which showed that people decide within 7 seconds whether or not they like someone—known as ‘thin slice judgements’. This typically happens even before words have been exchanged. So how you open your presentation can have a big impact on how people judge and perceive you.

Bottom Line: Make a grand entrance.

Trond Varlid

Full Huffington Post Article: click here

Web site of Vanessa van Edwards:

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.