Must be present to win

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Woody Allen is credited with saying that 90 percent of success is showing up.  While one could argue the percentage, it is impossible to dispute that we must, in most of life, be present to win. Speaking on youth unemployment matters at a university in Eastern Europe, I found myself on the final panel of what had proven to be a long day of speakers. The room, once filled to capacity, was now spotted with open seats. And, even many of those that were filled found occupants texting, dozing or otherwise disengaged from the presentations flowing from a long line of pontificating academics and blowhard businessmen.

Certainly, we can criticize the lack of attention and take note of the irony of failing to understand that that being an active participant in one’s own job seeking is required if one hopes to achieve the desired outcome. It is not sufficient to show up at an interview. It is not enough to create a robust resume. It is not even adequate to know one’s own strengths and weaknesses – and understand how to express them. One must be able to do these all actively and with intent. In fact today, just showing up is not enough.

But shouldn’t we also expect our speakers to engage with the audience in a way that is designed to capture attention and ensure a properly prepared and fertile mind in which to plant the ideas being communicated? While not advocating for some reality television style shock-fest, how could a little razzle dazzle hurt?  Isn’t it a conceit to require the listener alone to carry the burden of successful communication? Both the person sending the idea and the person receiving it have to show up. And, they have to want to make the connection.

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