Subtitles and transcripts of podcasts

Subtitles and transcripts are available for some podcasts linked to this blog, for example for all videos on Under the video, select Subtitles available in, and to the right of the video, select Open interactive transcript.
For Russian readers / Для русскоязычных читателей: Для некоторых подкастов, описанных в блоге, например, для подкастов на сайте, есть субтитры и записи текстов. Под видео выберите Subtitles available in Russian, а справа от видео выберите Open interactive transcript.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Omar Ahmad: Political change with pen and paper

Omar Ahmad (photo from
Omar Ahmad: Political change with pen and paper | Video on (video, 6 min)
In the world where political change is often brought about by novel methods (as in the latest blackout and other online protests against SOPA and PIPA) it is useful to revisit the trusted old methods that work. Check out this inspiring short podcast by Omar Ahmad, the late entrepreneur and the mayor of the City of San Carlos. (I have previously shared it with some of my readers.)
Ahmad suggests that the best way to engage politicians is by writing them a letter by hand. Hand-written letters are more effective than emails or phone calls.
Ahmad suggests a four-paragraph format for writing an effective letter:
  1. Show your appreciation for the politician, or at least for the tough job politicians have to do.
  2. Say what is really on your mind. Never attack the person - if you have to attack, attack the tactic.
  3. Show them an exit strategy: "If you had the right information, you would have done the right thing".
  4. Offer the politician help, for example, offer to provide clear information on the issue in the future.
A few additional useful points:
  • Write about your pet issue often - at least once a month.
  • Sign the letter showing any influence in a large sphere you may have (mention if you are a manager, a volunteer, etc). 
  • When writing to the US Congressmen and Senators, mail the original letter to the district office. Mail a copy to the main office. This increases the chances that your letter will be read.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stand-up desk

Stand-up desks are growing in popularity for a variety of reasons, such as helping back pain (mostly anecdotal evidence) or reducing sedentary time to burn extra calories (1/3 more calories per minute burnt compared to sitting desks). The benefits and risks of standing desks have not been explored rigorously, although on a related note it is well established that sedentary lifestyle leads to health problems, and that even little movements throughout the day help. In light of this, I would like to share with you a helpful insight I received from a reader of this blog. I thank the reader for kindly allowing me to post it here.  (The abbreviation "40$SD" below refers to the The $40 Standup Desk.) 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Marshall Goldsmith: Keep Your Ideas to Yourself

Keep Your Ideas to Yourself - HBR IdeaCast - Harvard Business Review  (audio, 9 min)
"Zip it!" (A scene from "Austin Powers", photo from
In this short podcast, management expert, executive coach, bestselling author and blogger Marshall Goldsmith follows up on an earlier HBR blog post on the same topic.
Consider a case when someone comes to the boss with an idea. The boss likes the idea, but instead of simply saying, "Great idea!", the boss says, "That's a nice idea, but why don't you add this to it?" The quality of the idea may go up by 5%, but the person's commitment to its execution has just come down by 50%. It's no longer the employee's idea, it's the boss's idea.
Similar situations occur between team members at work, between spouses, and between parents and children. According to Goldsmith, we should be mindful about adding "too much value". Before making suggestions, ask yourself, "Is it worth it?"
In some cases, accepting things as they are is not only a Zen method, it's also an efficient way to get things done.