Stay a Student

Aha! Eureka! The Flash of inspiration or insight. Sometimes it just hits you and you suddenly find a solution to a problem you’ve been working over in the back of your mind.

I absolutely LOVE this feeling and it happened just last night as I was trying to figure out how to build a presentation and make it rock. You see we have to give a presentation in front of the entire internship class and a panel of judges on what we did this summer. Its all very formulaic and pretty simple to do okay at. But its me, I want to do really well!

It had been on my mind since Friday night when someone had overheard my telling of a story to the intern who called me old. They were drawn in by it and mentioned that they hoped I gave that good of a performance during my presentation.

Since Friday its been on my mind … how can I give a meaningful presentation that works. I’d stared at the problem directly for far too long, chatted with a few people about it, and even sat trying to think about it from a new angle.

It wasn’t until I was working on something else and I heard a vocal track in a song I was listening to. The vocal was sampled from Missy Elliot’s Work It and the line was her “Flip it, Reverse it”.

Something about that lyric made a connection to the problem that had been on my mind. I started to run with that concept. I had to flip the expectations and reverse the way I presented at the event.

The formula had been very much – Agenda, Cases you worked on, what you did, what you learned, What you enjoyed over the internship with the goal of the judges to evaluate our ability to build and then present a 7-10 minute powerpoint.

I am going to flip this, and reverse it; leaning on the great resource of Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” as I rebuilt the entire narrative around why I am on the internship to begin with. I am going to communicate this why by starting with a personal story that frames the Why and draws he listeners in. I’ll be using techniques of story telling I learned this year from Simon Bucknell who presented to us three times at Oxford on telling stories in business. I’ll lean on Margot Leitman’s book “Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need” that I took the time to read this year as well.

At the end of the day the slides I built and the content in the middle is very similar to before I had this flash of inspiration. However now it has a consistent theme that would never have happened had I not had this flash of inspiration. Had I not been pushing to make the presentation better, had I not been pushing myself to learn more from great teachers, and had I not been constantly reading whenever I find a spare minute.

I’ve had this flash over a hundred times and what is key is that it always interlinks things I’ve had in my mind recently or that I learned a long time ago. My brain skips a synapse and makes a new connection to material in my head and helps me make it better. This only happens when I keep my mind open and I’ve got a problem in the back of my mind that needs to be solved. It is a constant reminder that I need to stay a student in order to keep making things better.