Guest Posting: Executive Leaders Have Something in Common with Old Kings, Marianne Gobeil

Marianne Gobeil is the CEO and founder of Leading Communicators. A recognized expert in the area of strategic leadership communications, Marianne is a trusted adviser to executive leaders — so devoted to helping them advance their leadership goals and objectives that she formed a company around it.

Marianne GoebilI was watching the film “The King’s Speech” again the other day, and it struck me that executive leaders today have a lot in common with King George VI. Not because they both stutter – although some certainly do, at least strategically. But because each faced a cosmic shift when it comes to communication. And in both cases, the disruptor was technology.

For King George, it was the “wireless” that fundamentally changed how he engaged with the British people. Have a listen to the counsel his father gives him:

Suddenly, centuries of tradition were disrupted. The old ways of ruling – from a distance, seen and heard by few – had been supplanted by a device that forged an immediate, close connection between the King and his people. The radio meant he was now present in their homes, and created the perception that he was speaking to them personally. What he said, and how he said it, now mattered, as there was a direct and immediate connection to them.

And now the same is true of executive leaders. We’ve all been customized for many decades at having people speak to us in our homes through radio and television. It had already started to surface in a different level of expectation outside the home as well; people wanted to feel that same sense of connectedness whenever someone spoke to them, even across a podium.

But now it’s different. People not only expect a speaker to connect with them; they expect to be able to connect right back. Social media is the great disruptor of our age. It’s opened the channels, and made one-way communication insufficient and perhaps ultimately obsolete.

The impact on executive leaders is huge. The two-way nature of social media has changed the rules of engagement. Like old kings ruling from a far, executive leaders can no longer lead from on high; they need to engage. They must be seen and heard by their employees and other stakeholders. What they say, when they say it, and how they say it matters because it carries far and fast.

So here’s the new reality for executive leaders: Speak up. Engage well and often. And when you speak, whether at a podium or across a meeting room, be sure you speak to the actual people in the room. Show them that you are aware of their specific interests and concerns, use the language and level of detail that they understand, and give them an opportunity to respond. The old days of one-way communication are gone, and clinging to them will reflect badly on your leadership.

This post originally appeared in Marianne’s blog. It is re-posted here with her express permission.

Executive communicaton skills land top UK job

A report in today’s Financial Times notes that the newly appointed governor of the Bank of England, Canadian Mark Carney, was chosen for his communication skills:

As Jennifer Jeffs, president of the Canadian International Council, a think-tank, puts it: “He doesn’t speak like an economist; he speaks like a human being.”

Evan Solomon, the Canadian writer and broadcaster, suggests those communication skills may be the greatest asset that George Osborne, the chancellor, saw in him, to restore confidence not just in monetary policy, which will be Mr Carney’s direct responsibility, but in the UK economic strategy as a whole. “The administration needs someone who can speak to the people,” Mr Solomon says. “People will not just trust him, but feel he’s a human being.”

Given the turgid prose employed by many central bankers, the bar is not set too high for a plain-spoken Canadian to win the hearts and minds of the British. Of course, when you’ve got them by their mortgage rates, their hearts and minds will follow.

The Second Elizabethan Age

Queen Elizabeth IIThe first Elizabethan Age lasted 45 years from 1558 to 1603 and saw a flowering of English influence through international expansion and naval triumphs. It witnessed a renaissance in poetry, music and literature, most noticeably the works of William Shakespeare.

The Second Elizabethan Age began on February 6, 1952 and celebrations are currently being held to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. There has undoubtedly been a decline in English influence and, the Falklands War aside, few naval triumphs. Nevertheless, England produced the Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Who and so was responsible for a renaissance of sorts.

Since my life has been almost exactly coterminous with the Queen’s reign I can claim, even more than Shakespeare could, to be an Elizabethan. Although I left England over 30 years ago, I still hold a British passport. I love my Marmite, Cheshire cheese & Branston pickle and admit to getting a chill down my spine when I heard them play Land of Hope and Glory on Sunday.

So here’s to Her Majesty who, as the Beatles sang is “a pretty nice girl, but she doesn’t have a lot to say.”

Interview: Rachna Srivastava – Geek Woman Speaker

Rachna SrivastavaRachna Srivastava is a passionate speaker. Her goal is to inspire and empower girls, women and other underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and math. Her vision is of a global program that nurtures and encourages technical and mathematical skills in women and other minority groups. Rachna is a software developer with 15 years experience in software analysis, design, development and implementation. Her educational background includes a Masters in Business Administration in Finance (MBA), Masters in Science in Statistics (MS) and Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. She is currently a Software Engineer at HP working with development teams in a complex, globally-dispersed environment. Before joining HP in 2010 she worked as a Software Engineer at IBM for nearly nine years.

Women in Information Technology

Rachna asks, “Did you know that in the next decade, the national demand for scientists and engineers is expected to increase four times that of all other occupations? But where are women? The population of women in information technology has dropped from 40% of the workforce in 1986 to only 20% now and the number is still dropping.”

The importance of inclusion and diversity

Rachna lists three reasons why we should care about having women leaders in technology:

  1. A recent study done at MIT shows that a well-managed diverse group produces more innovative solution to problems than homogeneous groups. Why is so? We know that to create innovation we have to have diversity of thoughts and in order to have diverse thoughts we need to have diverse set of people bringing these ideas.
  2. Women tend to be emphatic and empathy creates a more complete picture of issues, which contributes to changing consumer behavior. This understanding is critical to both product development and product marketing.
  3. Women are good collaborators, they are more likely to ask for advice and consider other peoples opinion. They encourage employees participation, and when employees participate they feel powerful and important and get them excited about their work. This is good not only for employees but also for the organization.

You can read more on this and other topics on her Geek Woman Speaker blog.

Pro-Track Profile

I met with Rachna and asked her about her background and the initial steps she is taking on her journey to get the word out about her important message. To hear what she told me, and her impressions of the National Speakers Association Pro-Track class that she is part of, click on the podcast icon below.

Manufacturing Industry: China will win, hands down

I download podcasts and listen to them on my drive to work. Today, driving my 16-year-old car which has any number of replacement auto parts keeping it on the road, listening to a 3-year-old Apple iPod, I heard two stories which described how electronics and auto parts are manufactured in China and America. Apart a clearer understanding about where the things I use in my daily life are made, I was struck by the diametrically opposed nature of Chinese and American manufacturing. Really, it was night and day. Click on the links below and listen to the podcasts for yourself. Both stories make for very compelling listening.

This American Life: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

Mike Daisey was a self-described “worshiper in the cult of Mac.” Then he saw some photos from a new iPhone, taken by workers at the factory where it was made. Mike wondered: Who makes all my crap? He traveled to China to find out.

He visited the Foxconn assembly plant in Shenzhen, a city of 14 million that did not exist 30 years ago, the third largest city in China that almost no-one in the West has heard of. It’s where, Daisey says, “all our electronic crap comes from … Shenzen looks like Blade Runner threw up on itself.”

Apple FactoryWhat he found there was the “back to the future” nature of Dickensian-style labor-intensive assembly plants where all the PCs, laptops, cell phones, tablets and MP3 players come from. These vast assembly plants employ tens of thousands of people in each building:

… a creature of the first world, I expect a factory making complex electronics will have the sound of machinery. But in a place where the cost of labor is effectively zero, anything that can be made by hand is made by hand. No matter how complex your electronics are, they are assembled by thousands and thousands of tiny little fingers working in concert. And in those vast spaces the only sound is the sound of bodies in constant, unending motion.

Daisey concludes:

How often do we wish more things were hand-made? We talk about that all the time, don’t we? “I wish it was like the old days, I wish things had that human touch…” But that’s not true. There are more hand-made things now than there have ever been in the history of the world. Everything is hand-made. I know, I have been there, I have seen the workers laying in parts thinner than human hair, one after another after another. Everything is hand-made.

NPR Planet Money: The Transformation Of American Factory Jobs

In American factories nothing is hand-made. Lacking cadres of rural migrants willing to work 16 hour days and sleep in cramped dorms, companies that are still manufacturing Stateside have replaced people with machines.

A decade ago, life in Greenville, South Carolina was organized around the cotton mills. Each mill had its own village, its own church, its own bar. These places were abandoned over the past decade as mill after mill went out of business. In the old Greenville the mills ran three shifts a day, and, as in China today, people with minimal education could work in a factory and make a living.

That was then, this is now.

Standard Motor Parts factory floorThere are still factories in Greenville, such as the Standard Motor Products plant that makes replacement parts for car engines. NPR reporter Adam Davidson expected to find a motor parts factory filled with big, noisy machines stamping out parts and spewing oil. Instead he saw workers hunched over microscopes. It looked more like a science lab than an assembly line.

The workers need an encyclopedic knowledge of metals and microscopes, gauges and plugs. They manage machine tools that create items like fuel injectors, which require precision engineering.

The few unskilled workers, in contrast, are trained to run the automated machines in minutes and can be replaced if the cost of “human capital” exceeds the capital cost of the machine.

The question is, can the 11 million unskilled manufacturing workers in the U.S. acquire the training they need, or will they have to take a slow boat to China to find work?

Adam Davidson explores life in Greenville in more depth in The Atlantic magazine.

Guest Posting: Worst Brand Name Award of 2011, by Alexandra Watkins

Alexandra Watkins is the Founder & Chief Innovation Officer at Eat My Words, a San Francisco based creative naming agency known for creating unforgettable brand names. The following post originally appeared in her blog and is reposted here with her express permission.

Announcing the most frightful brand name of 2011… the Head Scratcher of the Year goes to…

Glearch Logo

Ironically, the global search for Eat My Words’ annual Head Scratcher of the Year winner produced the disastrous mash-up of those very two words global + search: Glearch. This trainwreck of two perfectly good words is without a doubt, the worst brand name of 2011. Honorable mention goes to Qwikster (died a quik death), Helishopter (what the heli were they thinking?), and Fooducate (so similar to fornicate, it sounds like something you could be arrested for if you did it in the aisle of your local Safeway).

Lurch: Addam's FamilyThe unanimous response to Glearch is it conjures up terrifying images of Lurch, the freakishly tall and ghoulish manservant from the Addam’s Family, who never spoke, using only grunts, sighs, or simple gesticulations. This is never a good thing. Glearch also reminds people of the word, lurch, which has many unfortunate definitions. And it’s hard to spell… Glerch, Glurch, Glurruch… you shouldn’t need a search engine to find Glearch. Duh.

We admit that Glearch is actually a pretty cool tool. It lets you search by country, language, and/or by search engine. Clearly someone very smart created it. Unfortunately they were not as skilled when it came to creating the name. As with past Head Scratcher winners, including Xobni, Speesees, Shwowp, and Shryk, we suspect Glearch was the result of a drunken Scrabble game. Tip: Just because a domain name is available on GoDaddy for $9.95 does not mean that is what you should name your company.

As the winner of Eat My Words’ 2011 Head Scratcher of the Year award, Glearch will receive a freakishly tall gold plated trophy. (We’re also happy to give them some complimentary name consulting should they decide to glearch for a new name.)

Special props go to super sleuth Charles Knight, of AltSearchEngines, who tipped us off to the name Glearch, along with dozens of others clunkers, over the past few months. Charles suggested a new definition for Glearch: a verb meaning, to turn something wonderful into something terrible. We submitted “glearch” and its new definition to the Urban Dictionary, where you can now find it listed.

Please continue to send us bad names for our 2012 Head Scratcher contest. And if you want to make sure the next brand name you come up with doesn’t win that freakishly tall trophy, take the Eat My Words SMILE & SCRATCH name evaluation test to see if your name sucks. Of course, please contact us right away if your name does indeed suck. Operators are standing by.

197 top tweets from #hay

The 2010 Hay Festival of Literature and Arts generated somewhere between 4,000 – 5,000 tweets. The ephemeral nature of Twitter means the stream of commentary is no longer available inside the tool used to write them. However, they’re all here, in an archive of #hay tweets. Rather irritatingly, this includes all the #Hayward, #hayama, #HayleyWilliams and other tweets cluttering up the archive. A purist can view these 1,879 #hayfestival tweets. One suggestion for next year: use the hashtag #hay11 to create a clean record.

As someone living in California, whose never been to the festival, Twitter was a wonderful way for me to eavesdrop on the event.

I’ve selected 197 of my favorite tweets. The list is, like a blog, in reverse chronological order, with the tweets from the start of the event at the end, the most recent at the top.

I didn’t include tweets which pointed to the blogs or podcasts, or contained commentary which could be found there.

These were the tweets which gave me a sense of the event, and perhaps even a feeling that I was there in spirit.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their impressions, wisdom, wit and entertaining insights.

(Lurking as @cheshirelad)

  1. @divagari Thanks for taking time to report on Hay Festival, Tweeters. Good coverage from those in attendance.
  2. @Vinny64 Taking all the books I purchased at #hay with me to Dubai. I might get stopped at customs for smuggling in expression, thought and free-will
  3. @marcmack: It’s official. http://bit.ly/9eohXt Thanks @stephenfry & @hayfestival. Still probably need to keep physics job, though.
  4. @EmiratesLitFest A Steward’s View of #Hay: Last Day: http://bit.ly/boh9ed
  5. @unfortunatalie Reliving #Hay via medium of twitter – deffo now to be an annual event on my calendar, & will go for many more days next year!
  6. @katheastman Back from #Hay and now halfway down a glass of wine. Bit weepy and sad it’s all over for another year.
  7. @nosycrow #Hay to London journeys: @stephenfry chopper, champagne, memories of adulation; @nosycrow: post-1/2-term M4, pringles, kids fighting in back
  8. @chiggi: #Hay is like a drug. My supply has been cut off, and it’s not funny. What a festival it was this year… new friends + mind expansion
  9. @Philippa_Perry No more #Hay tweets for 12 months. Quite a relief, they are only fun when you are there after that it’s like listening to a party next door
  10. @soozworld From Jonathan Ive, to Oscar Wilde and Twitter – Stephen Fry kept me spellbound for two hours! Thank you Peter also!
  11. @Making_Hay: Review: John Julius Norwich: The historian John Julius Norwich took us on a whistle-stop tour #Hay. http://bit.ly/acu2kP
  12. @HelensWitter Leaving #Hay full of inspiration, organic ice cream and cider. Crossing fingers for @SkyArts at Baftas tonight
  13. @trishdever Given the demographic at the #hayfestival am astounded & annoyed at complete lack of humble veggie burger.
  14. @bonobobookcafe Fav. Hay moment: Yann Martel describing a letter he got from Barack Obama, personally thanking him for Life of Pi.
  15. @Marjakingma Sun, great talks, books, autographs, friendly people everywhere, honeydew beer!! Must be #hay
  16. @Vinny64 Welsh artist supremo Linda Norris sketches “The Early Edition” http://yfrog.com/evlxzj
  17. @melissadenes Just seen the v beautiful, v smart, v self-deprecating Zadie Smith: “I have a small talent”. She needs to borrow a bit of Amis ego
  18. @BOOKSA, thank you for your excellent reporting from the Hay Festival. Next best thing to being there. –A reader in Montana, USA.
  19. @roadgoer John Simpson v chatty signing books, took an interest in every person. Charming
  20. @jolwen: God this is good! Both Martin Amis & Peter Florence interviewing excellent – too many gems to do justice with tweets
  21. @ClairRatcliffe: Nick Clegg fails to mention Wales at #Hay Festival – Yes Hay-on-Wye is in WALES.
  22. @nosycrow Shields quotes William Gibson “Who owns the words? We all do.” He says literature has to be mashable and borrowable esp in digital age
  23. @melissadenes Amis: writing autobiographically about sex can’t be done. Porno sex is the only non-embarrassing way
  24. @BOOKSA: Amis: The difficulty of a novel is exactly proportionate to its length.
  25. @BOOKSA Amis: To be a novelist, you need a monstrous egotism. Poets aren’t like that – they’re much weirder. Novelists must be Everyman.
  26. @edielush Martin Amis: having a grandchild is a mixed blessing. Delightful but like a telegram from the mortuary.
  27. @joy_lo_dico HSBC chairman Stephen Green says Christ approved of banking – see last paragraph http://bit.ly/9hOxwr
  28. @crimeficreader: Some good pics from #Hay http://bit.ly/axWt9E
  29. @XanBrooks: Fighting our way through the crowds of #Hay. David Remnick: ‘It’s like high-school between classes’. But where are Chad and Mary-Sue?
  30. @grannylook When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes. –Erasmus
  31. @BOOKSA Remnick: Chicago’s south side is emblematic of black life in the US. Obama finds a cause, finds a church.
  32. @beckycad Fascinating listening to Antonia Fraser in conversation with Melvyn Bragg. What an incredible woman & such a romantic life she’s had #hay
  33. @toadmeister Listening to Melvyn Bragg interview Antonia Fraser at the Barclays Wealth Pavilion at #Hay. Smells like Wayne Rooney’s jockstrap in here
  34. @JohnFinnemore Think this must be the first time I’ve spent 24 hours in a town without being completely sure what country I’m in.
  35. @thomascooling Time to leave #hay. What a delight! Lovely talks, company, cottage and horse-riding.
  36. @PaulBlezard HayFlash: Beautiful misty morning presages a day of scorching hot sun, searingly brilliant events and ice creams. Hay’s where it’s at
  37. @matatatatat There would be nothing funnier than walking around #Hay festival wearing an england football shirt. Everyone would go very politely beserk
  38. @rupertbu Stewards View of #Hay: Special Duties: http://bit.ly/dcUXKa
  39. @ginbat @hayfestival Hay bluff, where sunlight spins a web on broader shoulders of velvet age and greening consciousness.
  40. @mikeappleby Overheard in q at #hay ‘it is quite impressive the way Rwanda is going at the moment’
  41. @chiggi John Sutherland sidesteps a nuts question by rambling about Plato, Aristotle and Schopenhauer. Oh and Eliot, + Goebbels.
  42. @BOOKSA Sutherland: Twain: a classic is a book everyone wants to read but no one wants to have read.
  43. @megmacleod Drinking pimms & reading the guardian alongside peter barlow off of the telly. Off to see chris evans in a mo #hayfestival
  44. @sarlitchin Queuing, Hay stylehttp://twitpic.com/1tv5zi
  45. @BOOKSA: Pollan: The healthiest food in the supermarket is the quietest: the unlabeled apple, the unpackaged fish.
  46. @nosycrow Gleitzman: The basic dynamic of a story is what character does to resolve a problem they have.
  47. @nosycrow @AndyStantonTM And moral of story for writers is write down your ideas however mad they seem
  48. @Ferders I have eaten too much cake / meat at #hay with no regard to impending bikini scenario. Best, most forgiving swimming costumes out there?
  49. @XanBrooks Roy Hattersley in #Hay to tell us why he loves England so. But joke’s on him, because we’re dragging him over the border … to Wales.
  50. @BOOKSA Here’s a did-you-know from Peter James: AC Doyle never wrote the words ‘elementary, my dear Watson’. A screen writer coined the phrase.
  51. @BOOKSA Peter James to cop: How did you meet your wife? ‘We met at a quadruple homicide.’
  52. @ostephens Enjoying good coffee, company and sunshine at #hay http://flic.kr/p/87zjty
  53. @BOOKSA Matthew Syed: if you believe success hinges on talent, you’ll walk away after failing once. If you believe it hinges on hard work, you won’t.
  54. @mommy_grrl @Making_Hay It has been a really spectacular week, weather-wise (all things considered.) I’ve only worn my wellies once!
  55. @Marllo words are spoken never broken
  56. @DanThomasUK: #Hay would be able to capitalise further on being a ‘town of book shops’ if they didn’t all close at 5:30
  57. @Skeenathon o laura marling, you are so wonderful and marvellous. I’m drunk and happy and this is the best festival ever!
  58. @sarlitchin Back at the site for a spot of Marcus Brigstocke. Sunburn successfully keeping me surrounded in a warm glow despite chillier air.
  59. @monnowman Easy to tell most ppl at #hayfestival are from big city: they walk briskly with grim determination as if rushing to catch the Tube
  60. @BOOKSA: In the middle of writing the book, Ranulph decided to climb Everest, which put him off schedule a bit.
  61. @BOOKSA: Lancaster: There cannot be many occasions when you’ve someone in the room whose forebears were at the signing of the Magna Carta.
  62. @IzzyMiller: The average adult knows about 50-60000 words… Shakespeare used a total of 20000 in his works – David Crystal
  63. @Pete2Boogie Only at #hay the duchess of Rutland telling a story of unblocking the guttering in her nightdress, wellies and umbrella
  64. @HelensWitter This time tomorrow I will be reclining in a deckchair, eating strawberries & people watching Boden Mums. Bring on #Hay
  65. @guardianhay: Overheard at Hay 2010 http://bit.ly/avYecT
  66. @JasonBradbury on the train to #Hay Festival, writing a Tokyo chase scene for my new book Dot Robot: Cyber Gold as I go.
  67. @chiggi Hannah Rothschild’s documentary about Peter Mandelson, The Real PM, has been pulled from #Hay. [Arch of the eyebrow]
  68. @hermonhermit Anyone wanting a free Guardian World Cup guide should go to #hayfestival on Saturday. The recycling bins will full of them by 09.30.
  69. @SelfMadeHero @GeekSyndicate ‘The Sign of The Four’ graphic novel will be out this Aug and those lucky people at #Hay (event 300) get a sneak peek.
  70. @SelfMadeHero Currently perched on a luggage rack with a French man dreading the hours to come. Not the best start to #Hay
  71. @mePadraigReidy: “Skeptical bloggers are among the greatest forces for good in society” @slsingh
  72. @alisonflood louis de b and friends all read l’etranger avidly as teenagers to discover what they had in common with the murderer
  73. @Pete2Boogie Sitting in the evening sunshine, sipping champagne waiting to see buona vista social club at #hay. Life is good!
  74. @chiggi Viking Harold Bluetooth was killed by Sven Forkbeard while he was taking a dump, Tom Holland tells #Hay
  75. @DanThomasUK A sea of grey hair fills the Ritzy for Mark Hudson on Titian. Feel lonelier than the Welsh Language Books shelf in the shop.
  76. @DanThomasUK #hay would get more tweets if it advertised/encouraged it. Twitter especially in mid Wales is not such an obvious thing to so just yet
  77. @zany_zigzag Need to get more water – seriously thirsty! Tip for anyone coming to #hay – it gets VERY hot inside the marquees!
  78. @adlandsuit Michael Holding at #hay. If the Guardian was a town, it would be a lot like this.
  79. @zany_zigzag @hayfestival Just been to see Daisy Hay (name = coincidence!) talking abt Shelley, Byron & co. – fascinating stuff!
  80. @andrewtghill “Research is the sap, the story is the leaves and the flowers” – Eleanor Updale, author
  81. @patrick_barkham Porritt, Attenborough, Jeremy Irons’ fears of overpopulation are ‘dangerous nonsense’ according to Fred Pearce at #Hay
  82. @thestephmerritt: I’m going to pretend I’m still in #Hay by sitting in a field and reading out loud from my book then tweeting about it while eating granola.
  83. @zany_zigzag Off to Hay later. Slightly worried about parking etc. Is ground going to be quagmire, do we think? Should I wear my sexy red wellies?
  84. @mpphillips Back from #hay. This means my tweets will no longer be full of famous people I have met (I walked past Jerry Hall!) as fewer in my house.
  85. @geraintdmorgan #hay my dad got mistaken for simon schama. Think my dad can be offended by that. He didn’t turn this mistake into free pimms though, fool.
  86. @PaulBlezard Hayflash: The sun is warm and shining bright. The birds are on the wing. Bonobo blew us all away last night. Great day ahead.
  87. @lezlaig There are two sides to every story, but six sides to every book.
  88. @hermonhermit: #hayfestival mountain wind / the stillness of a lamb / gathers the crows #haiku
  89. @anitasethi Amazing music at #hay this year…can’t wait for Laura Marling, I Speak Because I Can, to echo into the night. (i tweet because i can)
  90. @chiggi: Simon Armitage: there are more bodyguards than poets at #Hay this year
  91. @mattgreenough @speedupdating @ahiggitt – its probably more to do with Hay being full of people who had a note from mum excusing them from PE!
  92. @alisonflood: Wonderful funny & moving anecdotes from Joss Ackland at #Hay, on his wife’s grave it says ‘room for one more’…When he joins her it’ll say ‘here I am’.
  93. @Sarah_Crown Poetry is ‘not the thing said, but a way of saying it’
  94. @sumitsays #HayFestival . So twee it makes Latitude seem like a shebeen in a burnt-out squat. Think I might have to wee in a bottle for some edge
  95. @patrick_barkham: More MI5 history at #Hay. Codebreaker Alan Turing wore gas mask to MI5 interview so wouldn’t catch flu. He got the job.
  96. @PD_Smith: “I don’t think the future of writing will be menaced by new technology”: Peter Florence http://bit.ly/9ZIucL
  97. @patrick_barkham Britain definitely the worst country for attitude to maths – only here is it ok to admit you are rubbish at it, says Alex Bellos at #Hay
  98. @patrick_barkham MI5 historian Christopher Andrews’ cure for banking crisis? Move GCHQ staff to City jobs. Tells #Hay ‘It isn’t likely to happen’. Obviously
  99. @adlandsuit Waking up in Wales is fucking cool. Cheese platters 11.30am are fucking cool. My Sky Arts wellies are fucking cool. #hay is FUCKING cool.
  100. @guardiang2: “Like most high cultural events, most of the audience would rather be on stage” Grayson Perry’s take on #hay http://gu.com/p/2hcx7/tw
  101. @journojourno Just back from the G #HayFestival: never been amongst a more odious bunch of poseurs in my life.
  102. @James_Rock lots of new peeps @hayfestival this year but most seem to be @guardian employees – the #Hay tribe are not yet big on twittering it seems?
  103. @Sarah_Crown: Seems Henning Mankell was on the boat in the Palestine aid convoy that was attacked. We’re trying to find out more #gazaflotilla
  104. @Sarah_Crown News from #hay – Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor has cancelled his event tomorrow. No one v surprised…
  105. @hannahwoodstock People walking out of Tim Minchin at hay because he calls the pope a motherfucker. Hilarious and scary!
  106. @MissHClose Love seeing all the tweets about #Hay. Especially as I’m here, right in the middle of it. It is properly unbelieveable.
  107. @Red_Books Oh what a Hay day…in a good way. Fantastic and sold out Jo Brand event AND I met John Snow. Amaze.
  108. @UsborneMktg Celeb spots so far at #hayfestival: Jefferson Hack, Robert Winstone, Rob Brydon, Simon Schama, Anneka Rice, John Snow and Simon Armitage
  109. @jamieandlouise after being at #Hay today with such clever people – feeling like i really should work on intelligence – surely it’s not too late?
  110. @hannahwoodstock Simon schama is absolutely fabulous! He talks like most people would love to write
  111. @crossland I abhor camping. Uncomfortable, cold, noisy and a queue for a shower. #hayfestival made up for it though.
  112. @ecrjones At the risk of boring you…I am still ill, but am trying enjoy #hayfestival Highlights incl. Shappi Khorsandi. Peter Hitchens is vile.
  113. @adlandsuit So far, the #hay festival is a lot like T In The Park, only with fewer Scottish schemeys puking everywhere, and more Jo Brand
  114. @warmstrings Big breakfast, caffinated coffee, Morris dancing, antique searching. #hayfestival
  115. @dm0 So it seems both Miliband’s will be at #Hay this weekend. Talk about finding needless wannabe leaders in a Hay-on-Wye stack
  116. @janemartinson Last session on science made #hay almost total success for 8 yr old. “Will there be footballers nxt yr, Mum?”
  117. @mpphillips Me: who was that guy we were just talking to, the one who looks like a pop star? Friend: Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet. #hay #clueless
  118. @mpphillips Just walked out of a talk, first time ever at #hay. Five minutes of maths enough to persuade me that ice cream in the sun far preferable.
  119. @sarlitchin Just looked up from reading my paper to see Robert Winston carrying a plastic bag standing in a queue for ice cream.
  120. @Penders1 Don’t ask her about one’s private life, she can be savage!
  121. @mePadraigReidy: OMG! Mariella!
  122. @MichaelOrmerod Tweeting from a #hay deckchair. I think this is the most middle class place in the world.
  123. @Sianz i am drunk on middle-classness
  124. @hughesroland I’m in a bookshop in #hay that has a section on hitler and another on premature birth. Pretty obscure.
  125. @MjkeW Nothing booked at #Hay this morning. Time to catch up. Time to write. Time to process. Time to… oh… empty the chemical toilet.
  126. @pokomon night night from cold tent at #Hay. i have lent out warm clothing to my ill equipped fellow campers (@goatrick & @crossland)
  127. @lozhead I think today will be a book day. I’ll pretend I’m sitting on a deckchair in #hay looking clever.
  128. @Philippa_Perry All your tweets r making grayson & I homesick for #Hay. Not missing gypsy caravan though.
  129. @Madhviuk Sunday was by far the most interesting @#hay Although I would not recommended 7 events in one day. Brain meltdown
  130. @so_she_writes #HayFestival adventures in Wales a success. Jeanette Winterson is unreal – the entire room was hers from the minute she walked onstage.
  131. @PaulBlezard Hayflash: Bank Holiday Monday and glorious skies, hot air balloons & swifts screeching through the site like fighter jets.
  132. @thestephmerritt Well, it’s not often you find yourself dancing with Simon Schama, AC Grayling and Hugh Cornwell from The Stranglers. God, I love #Hay!
  133. @andydickson Sounds like #fakehay I know, but hv just been at a party where both hugh fearnley-whittingstall & Pervez Musharraf were present. Yikes #hay
  134. @sineadgleeson Odd to see the laid back vibe of #hay interrupted yesterday by lots of police and compulsory bag check-in for Pervez Musharraf.
  135. @mpphillips Disconcerting sniffer dog presence in Marcus de Sautoy’s fun presentation about maths. Turns out former pres of Pakistan in tent next
  136. @JillLawless: My best celeb spot in three days at #hayfestival? Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet queuing for Alain de Botton talk.
  137. @saulpims Explaining the joy of twitterising to charity bods at #hayfestival. They want to like but are confused.
  138. @njhamer Considering Sky are a major sponsor of #hay you think they’d make a better job of recording the events. Shocking sound on Andrew Marr talk.
  139. @NatalieHanman Reading is lover’s talk – a private, subversive act
  140. @guardiang2: Bryson too scared to take citizenship test to become British
  141. @NomDeGuerre Enough with the edifying. Time to go gy ready for another party…swapping soup thermos for hip flask
  142. @NomDeGuerre So many Hay questioners just want to hear themselves out loud (maybe to drown voices in their head)
  143. @Irish_Andy Having an epic time at #hay festival. So far, Quentin Blake, Ed Byrne and I got on Sky News!
  144. @katheastman Amazing culinary delight discovered at #hayfestival earlier today – Blackcurrant & Licorice icecream. Scrumptious
  145. @darrananderson Christopher Hitchens probably thinks of himself as a modern Orwell rather than the big bag of fermented shite that he actually is #hay
  146. @neilsonandrew first trip to #hay over. highlight may have been getting palm read by a Russian novelist, as you do
  147. @rsutcliff @chiggi I’ve stopped listening to historian Niall Ferguson #Hay, I find it contaminates my enjoyment of historical fiction.
  148. @Making_Hay: There is nothing worse for writers than cranking it out and getting no response. Tina Brown
  149. @soul_of_twit Ed Miliband update #Hay. Preppy jumper on. Still hanging with the plebs having an ice cream. Still pretty handsome. #shocktometoo
  150. @squizzey In my funky festival gear while the sun shines at #hayfestival – drinking Pimms with @katheastman & joyous Joyce who has macadamia nuts!
  151. @hughesroland Feeling out of place without panama hat at #hay.
  152. @annecharnock Overheard this minute at #Hay in queue: steward tells Ed Milliband to please move over to the left.
  153. @Cafedirect_HQ Double deckchair, your best mate and a cup of cafedirect coffee. Good #hay times! (Yasmin) http://twitpic.com/1sg9cf
  154. @mpphillips Standing ovation for Tom Buergenthal, Holocaust survivor and Hague judge. So calm, serene, inspiring. This is what #hay is all about.
  155. @benbryant Scored a lift to #hay today, allelujah! Would not advise anyone to try getting there via the mythical Hereford bus
  156. @soul_of_twit Apologies to people of #Hay. That was me striding across a field in pink neon ski thermals & wellies to powder my nose at dawn #fashionfail
  157. @DanThomasUK Glad to see #hay is trending hard this year. Lots more twitter awareness and mobile connectivity
  158. @MjkeW Alain de Botton believes ipad will not kill books, but diminishing levels of concentration from social media might. So er…
  159. @neilsonandrew My lady wife has spent 10 minutes chatting to Jerry Hall about Mick ‘n Bryan not jealous just impressed
  160. @chiggi So I bummed a ciggie from Jerry Hall at #Hay. She was rather delightful.
  161. @emilybell everyone on my feed is either watching #eurovision or at #hay … there’s a mash-up possibility if ever there was one
  162. @andydickson Coren on Twitter: “full of rubbish for illiterate people”
  163. @patrick_barkham Grayson Perry a #Hay highlight. Witty critique of deadening consumerism and a great frock. Wisdom without pomposity. Audience loved it
  164. @sarahlphillips Got told off for tweeting in Grayson Perry
  165. @Skeenathon Seen at #hay blue eyebrows, lindisfarne gooseberry wine, fat lady in skirt of many handkerchiefs and many, many pairs of cords
  166. @Making_Hay I’m a great user of Twitter but I’m aware of the dangers. Social media is like pornography #alaindebotton
  167. @nosycrow de Botton the most offensive q you can ask a child is “what did you do today” because they live in moment
  168. @nosycrow de Botton Western thinking unhelpfully divorces mind and body – over-intellectual. You have to know when to stop thinking
  169. @siwhitehouse Anyone here from Tower Hamlets? I’d venture that’s the first time that questions been asked at #Hay #HeatherBrooke
  170. @Skeenathon #Hay must be the least edgy festival ever. There are Renoir prints in the portaloos.
  171. @siwhitehouse And hello to the man walking *out* of the #Hay urinal with an ice cream cone in his hand.
  172. @melinwynt Bant i’r Gelli Gandryll am y dydd fory. Off to #Hay for a day of politics, poetry and science tomorrow. Hope the sun shines!
  173. @Making_Hay: In the Friends Cafe, glass of Veuve, listening to Roddy Doyle on the PA, reading a recycled Guardian.
  174. @Sarah_Crown Roddy Doyle: ‘if someone has to piss on you, let it be Henry fonda’. Quite #hay
  175. @Sianz there are so many good looking men here. who are so good looking, they know it too much so then they become ungoodlooking
  176. @mommy_grrl #hay festival tip: careful with the beer imbibing if you have weak bladder – lines to the WC are wicked long *crosses legs*
  177. @neilbeynon will be at #Hay tomorrow, looking forward to some brain food and, hopefully, the weather clearing.
  178. @iankatz1000: Prez nasheed of maldives to sceptics: come to the Maldives and look me in the face and tell me it (climate change) is not happening
  179. @mpphillips A man with a bi-horned hat just ran past me shouting ‘I am the apocalypse!’ Expect to see him later on panel later with Chris Hitchens
  180. @susannar100 Being at #Hay makes me want to get on with writing my book. Now, if only someone would look after these 3 kids ….
  181. @Sarah_Crown Just off to squire Bill Bryson round a cafe, so to learn the history of salt&pepper, tea&coffee, forks … just another day at #Hay
  182. @nosycrow Bill Bryson “Never had people found more ways to be worried in a confined space than Victorians in their bedrooms”
  183. @benbryant So being stranded at Hereford has given me a chance to reflect on the irony that nobody going to #hay seems to use public transport
  184. @siwhitehouse That @jenny_drew has just been serenaded by a clown on an 8 foot unicycle with a frog on his head. In a tutu.
  185. @siwhitehouse We’re getting competitive today. Both on the look out for women in summer dresses and brightly coloured wellies. Today’s top #Hay points
  186. @siwhitehouse: Early points scored. Just seen a bloke with a cream linen jacket, chinos, a straw boater and a cravat.
  187. @digestedread Raining so hard can barely hear a word bill bryson is saying
  188. @MjkeW Good morning #Hay. Ah, the Niagaran roar of rain beating on the drum skin roof of the caravan. That’s more like it.
  189. @sarahlphillips Only at #hay: chalked lines instead of ropes to keep queues in order
  190. @sineadsillars Just passed Andrew Marr asking for directions to a tent at #hayfestival. In a session with Nigel Mansell now.
  191. @MjkeW Arrived in #Hay. Sun shining. Caravan pitched. Fine meal in The Granary. Excellent! Now for some Islamic calligraphy
  192. @andydickson Setting up shot in wiggly wigglers garden. group of teens has just come past and dared ea other to eat maggots
  193. @andydickson First roadsigns to #hay! Gold and green fields, blossom, bluff in distance. Hurrah
  194. @thespyglass Yes, hurrah to #Hay. If only you weren’t so gorram expensive. Have fun, you rich-ass intelligentsia. *bitterauthenticgrumble*
  195. @sineadgleeson Standing ovation in a packed tent for Christy Moore at #hay. And brilliant version of Shine on You Crazy Diamond for an encore.
  196. @thethingisgav Pics of setting up at the Hay Festival – http://bit.ly/bZEo5j
  197. @Making_Hay @hayfestival #Hay worked very well last year. Is short, distinct enough, everything a good hashtag is

2010 Hay Festival of Literature and Arts

Hay Festival Field

Three years ago I mentioned the annual literature festival happening every May in the small Welsh border town of Hay-on-Wye.

Hay Festival This year’s event is currently in full swing and I’m following the proceedings on blogs, podcasts and Twitter. There’s a wonderfully charged intensity about the people who attend – relishing the excuse to rub shoulders with the famous, celebrate English eccentricity, and drink Pimms, as shown in these tweets:

@JillLawless My best celeb spot in three days at #hayfestival? Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet queuing for Alain de Botton talk.

@siwhitehouse Early points scored. Just seen a bloke with a cream linen jacket, chinos, a straw boater and a cravat. #Hay

@katheastman Seen Jon Snow & Ed Miliband so far wandering around at #hayfestival – spent 15 mins debating latter’s sex appeal. Damn this Pimms is good.

There’s dozens of talks, musical performances and impromptu events daily, each with a separate entrance fee. One lady reported she spent £500 on tickets.

My picks from the program were these 33 talks which I would have liked to have seen if I wasn’t 6,000 miles away. Oh well, they make a good annotated reading list for the year ahead.

Toastmasters Speech: You Say Tomato

Here’s a speech I gave at the Speakers Forum – an advanced Toastmasters Club that meets on the 4th Saturday of each month at the Concord Police Station, Concord, California.

In this 5-7 minute presentation I discuss the differences in pronunciation and meaning between English and American uses of the same language.

Heckling

“I think heckling is something the people of Britain can well be proud of…” – Joseph Strick, documentary film maker, 1966

HecklersA BBC documentary film caught priceless moments in the 1966 British election. Politicians mixed it up with vocal members of the electorate who have no compunction about joining in the debate from the audience in the time honored tradition of “heckling”.

Harold WilsonThere’s a marked contrast with the recent “Tea Party” interruptions in the US. Back in 1966 Britain, the dialog, however robust and vocal, involves a shared understanding of the rules of the game between the speaker, the heckler and the audience. Save for the anarchists, the protesters often relish engaging in dialog. Even when it becomes violent the policemen have smiles on their faces and let the protesters finish their cigarettes before bundling them into the police car. In the US it was mere confrontation, with none of the repartee displayed by heckler and speaker in some of the scenes in this fascinating documentary.

Combining the wit of a stand-up comedian with the vocal variety of a fairground barker, these British politicians show how effective public speakers can deal with interruptions by working the bond with the audience and appealing to their supporters, who intervene on behalf of the speaker to silence dissent.

It’s a long-gone world of duffel coats and briar pipes, when everyone seemed to be having a bad hair day.

Read the BBC blog and watch the fascinating 40 minute video.