The Old School Advantage
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The Old School Advantage

Timeless Tools for Every Generation

J. N. Whiddon

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  1. 314 pages
  2. English
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  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

The Old School Advantage

Timeless Tools for Every Generation

J. N. Whiddon

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About This Book

The Old School founder and acclaimed business author shares the timeless tools and wisdom you need to succeed in today's professional world. In an age where information is everywhere but wisdom is elusive, it takes more than technical skill to stand out. In The Old School Advantage, J. N. Whiddon teaches you how to use old-school communication skills, like delivering impactful presentations using ready recall and influencing people with WOW! words and probing questions that make a lasting impression. As Whiddon himself knows, school never lets out—no matter your age. Everyone from young professionals just entering the workforce to seasoned leaders looking to stay at the top of their game can benefit from Whiddon's indespensible tools. Start building a life you love, and a legacy that will endure, with the Old School advantage.

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Information

Year
2016
ISBN
9781612549118
The secret of a good memory is attention, and attention to a subject depends upon our interest in it. We rarely forget that which has made a deep impression on our minds.
—T. Edwards
Failure was only a few moments away.
Ms. Wright, a distinguished professional, was set to lecture a group of three hundred engineers at a large technology convention. She and her team had prepared a dynamic presentation complete with the latest special effects. Each frame had been carefully edited at least a dozen times. She was prepared to “knock ’em dead” with her expertise and presentation skills.
Ms. Wright settled in at the podium, taking one last sip of water. Suddenly, she lost her grip on the glass—soaking her laptop. The screen went dark. She stared into the crowded hotel ballroom as frantic AV personnel rushed to assist. What would she do?
Undeterred, she waved off the rescuers, thanked them for their help, and politely requested two flip charts with markers. She then calmly set the glass upright, mopped up the water as best she could, and stepped off the podium and toward the audience. As she began to speak, she seemed to make eye contact with every person in the room.
She was flawless. She used the easel to deliver each concept just as it had been prepared so tirelessly in the six weeks preceding the event. Her performance captured the audience’s undivided attention and earned their utmost respect.
Imagine the confidence they now placed in her. Imagine the influence she could now exercise. Imagine the stories that would be repeated about this “great presentation.”
How did she do it? How did she find the wherewithal to pull off such a feat?
By implementing a simple technique she had learned many years prior—known as ready recall—Ms. Wright was able to communicate her ideas with precision and poise, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Ready recall is one of Ms. Wright’s secret weapons, and part of the Old School Advantage.
On surveys that ask what people fear most, public speaking consistently ranks even higher than death. This situation with Ms. Wright is a nightmare scenario for any of us. You might never be called on to give a presentation while facing this kind of difficulty. But will there come a critical moment when technology fails you? Almost certainly.
What if you were not only prepared to react to such a challenge but also knew how to use classical recall skills proactively? Could you gain an advantage by intentionally setting aside technology, if only temporarily and in certain situations? It could well allow you to make an indelible impression on your audience—whether you’re speaking to three thousand or a single person.
As the opening quote by Tryon Edwards implies, I want this short story about Ms. Wright to make a “deep impression.” The skills and concepts we are about to study can launch your academic and professional careers, placing you well ahead of your contemporaries.
This study of recall, a simplified term for functional short-term memory, will build a foundation for the other four Old School Advantage competencies.
But first, a brief tutorial in three areas that affect recall:
  1. Working memory
  2. How we forget
  3. How we remember
Let’s get to work.
WORKING MEMORY
Our brain’s most essential function is memory. Without it, we have no ability to draw on past experiences, which makes learning impossible.
Research has provided limited understanding of the mysterious process that permits us to store bits of passing time. This includes studies that have shown that “an average thought lasts no more than a minute before we lose it. What’s more, most of us find it impossible to learn more than one new concept every ten minutes.”1
Have you ever wondered how information was passed to each generation before the common use of the written word? Perhaps this seems a strange question. Haven’t people always written things down? No, they haven’t.
Many centuries ago, learning depended almost exclusively on having an incredible memory. (Cyrus, king of Persia, could reportedly give the names of all the soldiers in his army.)2 Without exceptional recall abilities, one had little chance of excelling in education or employment.
Memory was so revered that there was great resistance to a “new technology” known as writing. In fact, Socrates, who lived in the fifth century BC, was in no way a fan of the written word. He feared that memories would deteriorate because of it. Fortunately, Plato—the prime pupil of Socrates—wrote down his teacher’s aversion to the written word and its “memory-stealing” properties.3
NOTE: Lest you worry that you have to compete with the “chosen few” who have the fabled “photographic memory,” I have news for you: there is no such thing. (Unless you count the single case that has been described in scientific literature.)5
The art of memory was also a crucial part of a classical education in the United States up until the 1800s. Since then, the study and practice of memorization has been largely absent. In the last decade, memory work has been even more rare due to the ease with which external memory is available via electronic devices. (One third of people under the age of thirty can’t remember their own phone number without pulling it up on their cell phone.)4
In his best-selling book on memory, Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer explains how we remember:
In 1956, a Harvard psychologist named George Miller published what would become a classic paper in the history of memory research. His paper was titled “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information.” Miller had discovered that our ability to process information and make decisions in the world is limited by a fundamental constraint: We can only think about roughly seven things at a time. When a new thought or perception enters our head, it doesn’t immediately get stashed away in long-term memory. Rather, it exists in a temporary limbo, in whats known as short-term, or, working memory, a collecti...

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