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I had read some of Dale Carnegie's books. I liked the ideas within, but didn't try to completely bend over backwards to incorporate them in my life. In April 2000, I took a job at a really kick-ass company so I would be able to live with my wife after we were married.This company had received a grant to send every employee to Dale Carnegie training.

To add insult to injury, it is on Thursday nights in this case; that is exactly the night that every other group I might be interested in going to the meetings of (e.g. the local LUG) meets. So, for 12 weeks I get to yield three and a half hours of my Thursday evening to the training.

I can accept all this. Especially since I'm going to tell you large chunks of what I did and what I learned. The course is based on Dale Carnegie's three major books: How to Win Friends and Influence People, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, and The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking.

Overall, I found the class a good opportunity to practice public speaking without notes and to be mindful of the principles Dale Carnegie espoused in his books. However, this was not an especially big jump for me. The company president described me as "already an accomplished public speaker" before I took the course, and I've even received the backhanded compliment of being "pretty sociable for an engineer." At the same time, it was of definite benefit to some of my coworkers and to others in the class, including the obvious progression made by the most nervous in the first session. If you'd like a fast-paced introduction to public speaking and how to better deal with people, I'd recommend it.

Session 1

    We learned how to do stacking. Stacking is a memory technique where you remember objects by making them gigantic, colorful, and smooshed together in you mind's eye.

    We then came up with a personal vision statement for ourselves, as well as a set of personal and professional breakthroughs relative to the course principles.

    I thought this wasn't bad, then the teacher had to go and break one of Dale's principles by criticizing, condemning, and complaining about something I did in a manner that, while not directly naming any names, made it obvious it was me he was talking about. I could have ripped his head off.

Session 2

    In Part A, we went and learned how to start talking to other people about themselves. Key concept would be the following stack:
    Imagine a brass nameplate the size of a parking lot. Suddenly a house comes slamming down on it. All the windows open up and there are kids waving at you. A work glove comes out of the chimney. The work glove grabs a passing airplane. The airplane has tennis rackets for propellers! In the cockpit, a green light is blinking.

    In other words, talk/ask about:

    We then worked on coming up with colorful images that can be acted out for each of our names, so that when we meet new people we can come up with colorful mental images for their names. As an example of an acted out image, my name is Art, so I mimed painting a picture.

    In Part B, we had to tell the class about our personal vision statement. I went last and we were running late, so I barely got any of it out. At least the instructor didn't do anything nasty to me.

Session 3

    In Part A, we first learned pegging, which is a technique for memorizing an ordered list.

    In Part B, we had to give a two-minute talk about a defining moment. I think I could probably node written versions of the talks.

Session 4

    In Part A, we first pegged the first nine Dale Carnegie principles (from How To Win Friends and Influence People) and then we each gave a one minute talk where we committed to improve our relationship with a person and then report back in three weeks.

    In Part B, we gave a two minute talk about a personal accomplishment using a prop. The purpose was both for us to speak from the heart as well as practice using a prop.

Session 5

    In Part A, we each gave a one minute talk about a commitment to put ten times more enthusiasm in some area of our life.

    In Part B, we gave a two minute talk about an incident and what we learned from it. The objective was to use the 'Magic Formula', which is a formula for a quick speech to motivate people to action.

Session 6

    In Part A, we performed an enthusiasm exercise called 'The Box Factory', which essentially involved exaggerated miming of a series of actions as we told a story about a box factory.

    Then, we each gave a one-minute talk to teach the class something.

    In Part B, we did an enthusiasm exercise based on the talks we later gave - one minute talks about something that we feel passionate about.

Session 7

    In Part A, we performed an enthusiasm exercise essentially involving trying to talk over another talker..

    Then, we each gave a two-minute talk about the results of our committment to apply the first nine "Win Friends and Influence People" principles to improve a relationship with a friend. Dan (the teacher of the class) said he liked my enthusiasm. He always does..

    In Part B, we committed to use the "Gain Enthusiastic Cooperation Principles" to gain enthusiastic cooperation from someone.

Session 8

    In Part A, we complimented each other in small groups and discussed how it went. From what I see in the compliments to me, it looks like I set the bar too high for myself -- if I'm already doing that well, how am I going to improve enough to win a pen, thereby helping to defend my workplace's honor?

    In Part B, we gave two-minute talks on the results of our committment to be ten times more enthusiastic in some area of our life.

Session 9

Session 10

Session 11

    In Part A, we gave two minute talks on the results of our committment to use the Be A Leader principles.

    In Part B, we gave two-minute talks on a time we felt a strong emotion in our life. One more session to go...

Session 12

In this case, "stacking" is actually an old idea. Back when paper was scarce, and books were highly at risk, monks would memorize literally whole volumes of information by building a memory palace. Said palace was a whole interconnected series of mental rooms that had objects and decorations, with each item being associated with a particular piece if information. Whole speeches can easily be memorized this way.

For more information on this subject, try Thomas Harris' Hannibal, or

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