I attended the funeral of a friend yesterday afternoon. She died at the age of 74 after a battle with cancer.
The service was tinged with sadness at the loss of a family member and friend. However, it was also a celebration of a life well lived: a life that left a lasting impression on those who knew her.
In listening to the tributes to her life, and reflecting on the years I’ve known her, three traits signified the quality of her life.
- She had a strong spiritual faith. It’s a good place to start. This was the foundation of her life. Everything she did came from her spiritual beliefs. It wasn’t a cloistered faith, practiced for an hour on Sunday, but practiced and lived every moment.
- She loved her family. She was one of seven children and had six of her own. It was a big family and she was devoted to them all. When the final throes of of her illness came on, she was down in Ontario visiting with her sisters. One didn’t have to watch the family for too long to realize they were important to her.
- She gave to others. This lady had arthritis in her hands. It was the kind of arthritis that made her fingers look like a bird’s claws. Despite that, she spent considerable time knitting clothing that could be donated to others in need. One of the last things she did was go through her store of knitted items and indicate who was to get what.
As I sat listening to the tributes, I wondered what kind of impression I am making with my life. Are my core beliefs and practices important and are they making an impression on those around me?
How will I be remembered, after I am gone?
How about you?
I spent the better part of last week on my death sick bed. Flying back from a extended-weekend visit to Vancouver, I felt the onset of a sore throat. We arrived home and I began to mega-dose on vitamin C, hoping that would contain the situation. It didn’t. I ended up with some flu/cold combination that affected my temperature, my stomach, my head, my chest and most other parts of my body.
So, now I’m back in the office after a long unplanned break: the message light on the phone is blinking; both my virtual and real in-boxes are overflowing; last week’s next actions are now overdue; my staff and my manager all want a piece of me; and I just want to go home a crawl back into bed. How do I get things back on track?
It’s time to get back to basics:
- Collect: Grab everything that needs your attention. Whether you use David Allen’s mind sweep or you prefer a list format, go through your messages, e-mail, missed actions, etc. and capture all the items that require some action.
- Meet: Sit down with co-workers. This is the people version of collecting. Find out what was managed was you were away, what new issues have arisen and add these to your mind-sweep list. This is also a good time to thank them for covering your unexpected absence.
- Process: Once you’ve collected all the open loops, figure out what you need to do to close them. Whether it’s as simple as throwing a brochure in the garbage or as complex as planning a management retreat, you need to identify the steps needed to move the item forward.
- Prioritize: Next, you can organize the action steps into lists of what you’re going to do.
- Get it done: Now that you know what you need to do, get started. It may take time and effort to get things reorganized to move forward, but don’t stop at the end of step four. Here’s where you can pull things back on track. (Ten tips for giving effective instructions)
One other observation: the better you’re maintaining your system day-to-day, the smaller the impact of unexpected absences. If you are already behind when an illness strikes, it will be that much harder to bring things into line.
There are two major league sports teams in Edmonton: the Eskimos of the Canadian Football League and the Oilers of the National Hockey League. In 2005, both teams achieved considerable success in their respective sports. The Eskimos won the Grey Cup and the Oilers took the Stanley Cup series to seven games, before dropping to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Image via Wikipedia
The following year, neither team achieved anything of which they could be proud. The Eskimos missed gaining a playoff spot for the first time in 35 years and the Oilers finished tenth overall in their conference.
How is it teams can be so successful one year and go nowhere the next? How is it in life that some people regularly meet and exceed goals, while others have trouble just showing up?
As I look at sports clubs, at all levels, that are consistent winners, or examine highly successful organizations and individuals, I see five traits that are the hallmarks of a champion.
Champions have character. That is, they have defined values, ethics, ethos or standards. Whatever you want to call it, all they do, and how they do all, is driven by the quality of their character.
Champions have a drive to win. They know what they want to achieve and how to create goals to get them there. Even when they don’t win all of the small victories, their focus on the big win carries them forward.
Champions take charge of circumstances. They constantly prepare and hone their skills so they can meet whatever challenges come their way. They also know the importance of developing new skills to be able to handle change.
Champions are even-tempered. In game five of this year’s Detroit – Calgary series, Calgary players showed their frustration by slashing and cross-checking in the final minutes of the game. Goalie Jamie McLennan ended up with a five game suspension for his slash. Needless to say, the Detroit Red Wings moved on to the next round, while the Flames packed and went home. Champions know that the only way to maintain or regain control in a difficult situation is to remain calm and focussed.
Champions do the right things over and over again. A winning football team brings its A-game to the field week after week. The best-selling writer sets time aside each day to write. A successful fundraiser works her prospect list regularly. Champions know achieving success involves consistent execution of their best moves.
We’re all “competing” for different kinds of prizes; the rewards that make our lives meaningful. If you want to have success in reaching your goals, you need to develop the heart of a champion.
Save Your Fonts with Your Presentation
If you’re preparing a presentation that you plan to distribute to others, be sure that you check this option by clicking on the Tools button in the File/Save As dialog box. This will work for most TrueType fonts on the Windows platform.
Saving Your Toolbar Configurations
If you like to customize your UI, move toolbars around, configure toolbars, etc, then you’ll want to know that all this information is stored in c:\windows\application data\microsoft\powerpoint\ppt.pcb
By copying this file, you can move your customizations to other machines.
If you’d like to see the available keyboard shortcuts for menus, commands, and toolbar buttons, go to Tools/Customize, click on the Options tab, and click on “show shortcut keys in screen tips”.
Getting Rid of Short Menus
Forgetting user reaction to this feature when it was introduced in Word years ago, the Office team decided to try it again. Unfortunately, it’s still annoying. To see all of your options when you click on menus, go to Tools/Customize, click on the Options tab, and uncheck “menus show recently used commands”.
Preview Fonts in the Toolbar
If you’d like to see previews of the actual fonts in the font selection of the formatting toolbar, go to Tools/Customize, click on the Options tab, and click “List font names in their font”, click Close.
Making Auto-Fit Text Stop Auto-Fitting
Turn this feature off by going to Tools/Options, click on the Edit tab, and uncheck “autofit text to text placeholder”, click OK.
Getting Rid of Tri-Pane View
Unfortunately there is no way to permanently avoid this improvement, but you can quickly get rid of it by holding down the CTRL key when you click on the Slide View button.
Using Ctrl-Drag to Copy
You can quickly make a copy of any object by holding down the CTRL key while you drag on the object. You will then “drag off” a new copy.
Making Slides Print Correctly
PowerPoint has certain defaults to determine how it prints each object on the page. You can see over-ride these defaults. Go to View/Black and White; this will show you a gray-scale preview of how your slide will print. To change the print settings for any given object, right-click on it, then click “Black and White”, and then choose the appropriate print option for that object. Master objects can be selected by going to the Master page View.
Preview Slide Show Effects
While editing a presentation, hold down the CTRL key while clicking the slide show view button; this will open a tiny preview window showing that slide in slide show mode.
Setting the Default Text Style
If you want to change the style of the text that appears when you type things that aren’t the title or the slide body, do the following:
Make sure no objects are selected.
From the Format menu, select Font. Make all the changes that you want there, and click OK.
From that point on, new text will be created in that style.
To Set the formatting for the title or slide body objects, go to the Slide Master and format these objects on the master.
Using Different Backgrounds within one Presentation
Users of PowerPoint 2000 and lower will only have two background designs automatically supplied with the Masters (counting both the Slide Master and the Title Master). However, you can have any design you want on any slide. From the Format menu, select Background. Check the box that says “omit background items” and this will make the slide ignore the Slide Master’s design. You are now free to add whatever design you want to this slide. If you want to do this to many slides at once, go to the Slide Sorter, select the slides, and then use the Format menu command. Remember though that if you choose to do something like put a photographic background on many of your slides instead of doing it once on the Master, that your file size may increase dramatically.
PowerPoint 2002 supports multiple background masters.
Using More than One Guide
If you like using guides, but wish there were more, you can create additional Guides by simply holding down the CTRL key while dragging on an existing Guide. This will create a new guide. To get rid of guides, just drag them off the edge of the slide.
Using Guides to Measure
Make the Guides visible by using View/Guides. Then, hold down the SHIFT key while you click-and-hold a guide; the tooltip for the guide will display 0:00. As you move the guide, the distance the guide covers from the beginning of the drag will be displayed in the units of your ruler. In this way you can measure distances between objects, place guides at specific places, etc.
Creating Pages with Slides and Descriptive Text
If you want to create printable pages that have notes or descriptive text associated with each slide, PowerPoint has a feature designed to do just this called Notes Pages, or Speaker’s Notes (depending on which version you’re using). To view the Notes page for any slide, go to the View menu and select Notes Pages. You will see an image of your slide there, and a placeholder for adding your script, notes, or any other text you wish. You can cut-and-paste text from Word here if you like. To print these pages, bring up the Print dialog, and at the bottom of the dialog where it says “Print What:”, select Notes Pages. These pages were originally designed to be used as audience hand outs (with space for the audience to take notes) but were also used by many as speaker’s notes: the text block would have the script of the presentation, to be used by the speaker, or for sales binders to educated sales people.
Making Presentation Files Smaller
Prior to PowerPoint 97, there was no internal file compression code inside of PowerPoint, and files could get pretty big quickly. The most common cause of large files is the addition of large bitmaps. PowerPoint 97 compresses these bitmaps, but previous versions do not. To keep your presentations as small as you can, try reducing the resolution of your bitmaps, which will bring their size down tremendously. For viewing on screen, the bitmaps don’t need to be more than 96 dpi; they won’t print nicely until they’re up around 150 or higher, but the screen always displays at 96 dpi, so if the primary viewing medium is the screen, there’s no point in having the bitmaps be a higher resolution. Also, the bitmap format can make a big difference to your file sizes. JPEG and PNG both have good internal compression code. GIF has some, but not as good as JPEG. BMP files are the largest; TIFF files will also be very large.
Sometimes, as you’re working on a presentation, you’ll notice that the file seems to get bigger for no reason. To get rid of this “bloating”, save the file using “File/Save As” and give the file a new name. This can reduce the file size up to 50%.
Building Presentations for Distribution to Others
If you’re making a PowerPoint presentation that you intend to distribute to lots of different people, here are some important things to watch out for that will cause problems:
1. Stick with the fonts that come installed with Windows; Fancy fonts that appear on your machine will cause problems if everyone else doesn’t have them.
2. Avoid embedding sounds and videos: these will not go from Mac to Windows gracefully, and you have to be very careful about how you insert the files in order to get them to “travel” properly. See the FAQ section for more information on this.
3. Try looking at the presentation on a different platform (Mac vs Windows); be prepared for some visual changes in your file–the version or platform may not support some of the features you’ve put in, so be sure to sanity check your file on several different machines and versions BEFORE you distribute it!
Easily Changing from Caps to Lower Case (or Vice Versa)
If you have text that is in the wrong case, select the text, and then click Shift+F3 until it changes to the case style that you like. Clicking Shift+F3 toggles the text case between ALL CAPS, lower case, and Initial Capital styles. You’ll be surprised how often you use this once you get the hang of it!
You can use the arrow keys to move objects very small distances. This is a big win for those laptop users who no longer have mice. Select the object, then use your arrow keys. Each press of the key will move the object on “grid unit” (1/12th of an inch, don’t ask why); if you hold down the ALT key while nudging, or if you have the grid turned off, you can move the objects one pixel at a time.
Saving Across Multiple Diskettes
From the File menu, select Pack and Go. This wizard will compress your PowerPoint presentation and copy the file onto as many floppies as are necessary. Be sure to format a bunch of floppies BEFORE you start the process, and make sure they are empty. This feature requires PowerPoint 95 or higher.
These can be pretty hysterical in the right circumstances. Create a text object. With the text object selected, click on the Animation Effects button on the tool bar (the one that looks like a yellow star), and then click on the “flash once” button. Go to slide show and see the message quickly flash and then disappear.
Anything you draw with the pencil tool, you can edit. To get the object into “points mode”, either double-click on the object, or select it then hit the Enter key. You will then see points at every vertex, which you can move. You can add points by holding down the shift key and clicking, you can subtract points by holding down the ALT key while clicking, and you can of course just drag points around.
You can create “soft” shadows for square or round objects that sit on a solid color background. Make a copy of the object, then change its fill to be shaded from black to the background color, with the shading set with black going from the center out to the background color at the edges. Make this object about 150% bigger than the original object, and put it behind the object. This will give you the effect of “soft” shadows.
Selecting Small Objects
Hit the ESCAPE key to insure that nothing is current selected, then repeatedly hit the TAB key, which will toggle you through a selection of all of the objects on a slide. This is useful for selecting very small objects, or objects that are covered up by other larger objects.