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My Tipsheets are chock full of ideas. They are all aimed at translating knowledge into a quick, action-oriented 60-second nugget.

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Zoom Lens

by Randall Craig on September 15, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: ,

How do you solve problems? One way to do so is to use a zoom lens.

If you’re like most people, at one time or another you’ve played around with a zoom lens. When you zoom out as much as you can, you see just about everything: you have an overview. Zoom in a bit, and each object becomes distinct; you see the components of the problem. Zoom in to the max, and it is like using a microscope: every minute detail takes on great importance. Zooming out gives you a top-down view; max zooming in gives you a bottom-up view of the problem.

Of course, with a maximum zoom, you lose the overview, but this isn’t the only problem. No matter how much (or how little) you zoom, your perspective is always the same. A photographer who uses a zoom lens to take a picture of a building will never know what is on the other side unless they shift their perspective. And similarly, looking at a problem from someone else’s perspective is the only way to see the situation… from their perspective. (Truly great problem solving requires both zooming and shifting.)

This week’s action plan: Shifting and Zooming can be used to solve problems, but it can also be used whenever you write. This week, before you send an important email, blog, or Tweet, consider if you can make a stronger point if you zoomed in or out, or shifted your perspective.

Writing note: Did I use shifting and zooming in this simple post? The metaphor of the lens probably helped you visualize the concept more effectively. In addition, the post is written in the second person (you), not first person (I), shifting the perspective to someone who you are more interested in (eg yourself).

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)


Diverse Points

by Randall Craig on July 21, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: ,

Have you ever had the opportunity to listen to a speaker from another country, or from a culture that is very different than your own? If you have – and most people have – you may have noticed that they use different words than you. Perhaps you found them odd, but you were able to piece together what they were saying. Or were you?

Our backgrounds influence us in many ways when we communicate: the accent and the choice of words are the most obvious. What isn’t obvious is the emotional connection to the cultural, national, and religious narratives of the past. When an American hears “I have a dream”, this phrase evokes an entire world of emotional response. But when a Brazilian hears it, it may mean nothing. When a British World War II veteran hears “We will never surrender”, it evokes strong memories. But when a young Russian hears it, the emotional response may be blank. And similarly, phrases such as “let their be light” may be foreign to those who were not raised in a Judeo-Christian culture.

When we write or speak, we do so through the lense of our own backgrounds. Improving comprehension – and buy-in to your ideas – requires two key activities:

1) Unless we understand the lense of the speaker or writer, we may not understand the richness – or the nuance – of what they are saying; yet we will understand their words. Ask what they mean, or if there are any stories behind unfamiliar words.

2) To avoid alienating a diverse audience, you may need to reduce cultural, national, religious, and historical references. Or at least explain obvious ones in an unpatronizing way.

This week’s action plan: The global nature of the internet means that your Blog posts, Tweets, and YouTube videos may have an audience well beyond your “normal” target market. This week, when you write and speak, (and Tweet, and Video) assume that your audience does NOT have knowledge of your history, culture, national, or religious background.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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Spontaneous Discovery

by Randall Craig October 21, 2009

What happens as we age? We’re more mature, we listen more carefully, we’re given more responsibilities, and we earn the experience that prepares us for even more. Contrast this to children: They learn by watching, they don’t know what isn’t possible, they’re spontaneous, and most of them have an insatiable curiosity. While very few people […]

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Not Like Me

by Randall Craig June 2, 2009

Clients, prospects, friends, family, co-workers, your manager, and recruiters: It’s easy to assume that everyone thinks precisely like you do. But they don’t. They each have their own experience, education, training. We know this instinctively, yet still we make mistakes based on this premise. Then during a presentation, in an interview, when we write reports, […]

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The First Day of School

by Randall Craig September 2, 2008

Remember your first day at school, after a long summer holiday? You looked forward to seeing friends again, while at the same time felt sad about leaving the summer behind. However you felt (and maybe still feel), today, many people use the summer more actively, physically and also to make changes personally and professionally. You […]

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Holding Attention

by Randall Craig May 6, 2008

Have you ever had the feeling that the person you are speaking to really wasn’t paying attention to your conversation? Maybe they are pre-occupied with a personal matter? Or they might not care about your message (or about you)? Or perhaps they are focused on an impending deadline? Whatever the reason, from your perspective it […]

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Experiences, not Experience

by Randall Craig October 17, 2006

People collect the craziest things: movies, music, books, shoes, coins, and spoons are just some examples. But what about collecting experiences? Experiences are activities that either give you new skills, or improve existing ones. Experiences give you perspective, flexibility, and develop your business acumen: all critical for your career success. Unlike collectible coins, we can’t […]

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Coaching 1-2-3

by Randall Craig August 22, 2006

One of the biggest buzzwords in business now is “coaching” – but what does it really mean?. What springs to mind is the athletic coach, who provides the technical skills to help the athlete reach their potential. On the other hand, we think of the mentor, whose invisible hand and perspective helps guide the “mentee” […]

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