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20 Media Links that Changed my Life

20 Media Links that Changed my Life

1 – Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

steve jobs

    For teaching me to stop attributing value to unimportant things, and start trusting my instincts. Before reading Jobs’ speech, I was working a job I hated because it was really the only thing I ever tried. It was what I knew. Jobs says “You’ve got to find what you love.” His speech helped me realize that I was wasting my life living someone else’s dream. If I settled for someone else’s dream, I’d grow old and die without ever seeking my own.

    2 – Hunter S Thompson “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail” June 3, 1976, Rolling Stone

    The real world is exciting, but the news is boring. Hunter S Thompson changed all that. During his stint with Rolling Stone, Thompson wrote some of the most brilliant journalism featured in a news publication. He invented Gonzo journalism, and proved what a man can accomplish with the right perspective. Hunter S Thompson didn’t just report the news; he redefined the media. Gonzo journalism laid the ground work for the modern citizen’s journalism movement.

    3 – Tabitha Soren “Tupac interview” 1995, MTV

    Tupac (2Pac) Shakur is often quoted by members of the hip-hop community, but most of them seem more committed to achieving his fame than his dream. Tupac inspired me since I was a kid. I was taught musical theory and performance at an early age so I understood his music, but I was too young to understand the media. This interview forever preserves the mannerisms of one of the most iconic musicians of multiple generations. Pac knew he couldn’t change the world, but we believed he would inspire the mind that does.

    4 – Gabriella Coleman  “Who is Anonymous?” June 27, 2012, TEDGlobal 2012

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    who is anonymous

      The hivemind of Anonymous is a byproduct of modern life in a surveillance state. The instant you leave your home, you’re in public and lose certain rights of privacy (although never all). Every human being deserves complete control over the privacy in their own home though. Your smartphone or tablet connects your home to the rest of the world, and Anonymous is the internet’s natural defense against it. In this TED Speech, Anthropologist and academic Gabriella Coleman breaks down what she learned from Anonymous.

      5 – Brian Penny “I’m a Bank Whistleblower and You Can Be Too” October 29, 2012, The Huffington Post

      I learned to utilize the media for defense. Social media had proven effective, and I was connected to the right people at the right time. HuffPo invited me to contribute a series of blogs to a political column. I wasn’t really following politics, so I only got 1 boring article cranked out before I realized I was the journalist I needed to tell my story. I spent so much time training regulators, lawyers, journalists, and activists that I forgot to leave a breadcrumb trail. This article launched a successful writing career for me and taught me the power of the media.

      6 – The Beatles – The Beatles Anthology (1995)

      The Beatles Anthology

        By the age of 25, I completely ran out of both new and old music to listen to. I decided to buy the Beatles Anthology and watched it straight through…twice. Whether you like The Beatles or not, this collection of media about them is an amazing story about fame, fortune, and art. This is your brain on drugs. It taught me everything I need to know about the world and the media, and the music is amazing. Paul McCartney is easily one of my Top 10 Concerts of all time, and thanks to the media, the legacy of The Beatles will forever be preserved.

        7 – James Duane & George Bruch “Don’t Talk To The Police “ June 21, 2008

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        do not talk to police

          Watching this could be the best 45 minutes of your life. I’ve spent a lot of time with police officers as a witness, person of interest, friend, and family. I also grew up on Army bases to a mother and father who worked military intelligence. I blew the whistle on the largest bank in the United States. If you trust one thing you see on the internet, trust this speech. It’s your right to remain silent, and anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

          8 – Julian Assange “Why the World Needs Wikileaks” July 2010, TEDGlobal 2010

          why the world need wikileaks

            Wikileaks is a legend. Last month on Mother’s Day weekend, Julian’s mother Christine RT’ed a tweet of mine with a link to a blog about some of the retaliation I experienced as a whistleblower. Assange redefined the media and changed the world. Seeing him speaking on TED opened my eyes to the new world we live in. He explains many yogic ideas being applied to society as opposed to individuals. Assange’s vision of the world is even more chilling now that Bradley Manning is on trial and Edward Snowden leaked a glimpse of big brother.

            9 – Every News Outlet in the World “The World Trade Center South Tower Attack” September 11, 2001

            I was in Ft Benning, GA standing in lines getting my gear assigned for Army basic training. What started as a shot for college money and escape from Ft Huachuca suddenly became a brutal reality. The military restrained information from soldiers, especially those in training. We were cut off, and rumors were rampant as snipers, MP’s, and Special Forces shipped out in dessert combat gear. It wasn’t until a year later after seeing a contractor beheaded online that I finally sat down, read what got reported, and watch the media footage of the WTC attack… Where were you?

            10 – TMZ Staff “Michael Jackson DIES” June 25, 2009, TMZ

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            michael jackson died

              I’m an 80’s baby. I grew up on Michael Jackson. There’s no hard time in your life that can’t be soothed with a little MJ in it. Michael was a genius, an artist, a businessman, an icon, a star. When he died, it was almost unbelievable. We’ll never have another like the King of Pop, and it was the internet that reported it first. We’ll always be faster online. Michael Jackson will forever be preserved on the internet.

              11 – Kurt Loder “Kurt Cobain 1967-1994” April 5, 1994, MTV News

              Kurt Loder was the most reputable new source I knew of in the 80’s and 90’s. Kurt Cobain was the artist who created some of the most hauntingly beautiful albums I ever heard. Nirvana’s Unplugged set sits in a league of its own alongside Eric Clapton and Jay-Z’s performance with The Roots. Cobain’s death was a tragic one. His fame heralded the peak of the grunge era and the end of the 80’s. His music and subsequent suicide still resonate with generations of music fans.

              12 – Mohandas Gandhi “Non-violence and World Crisis” November 26, 1938, Harijan

              At a time when Adolph Hitler was taking over the world, Gandhi promoted peace. He took a stance and defended nonviolence in every situation. Reading his articles inspires me to think through difficult hurdles. There is always a way. If one man can do it, anyone can. Reading the words of Mohandas Gandhi reminds me that anything is possible if you sit still long enough.

              13 – Alyona Minkovski and Ceynk Uygur  “Anonymous vs Bank of America” March 16, 2011

              I wasn’t just standing at the center of the mortgage crisis. This time I was the story. I had a first-person view of the news. I got to see how skewed the media was just by reading what they wrote about me. I hid behind Anonymous and watched. Alyona and Ceynk were among only 4 journalists who put in the proper research. I beat the banks. I hit them where it hurt, and ignited a revolution. Learn how to be Anonymous here: anyone can do it.

              14 – Brian Knappenberger – We Are Legion (2012)

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              The Story of the Hacktivists

                While living in Clearwater, FL surrounded by Scientology, I downloaded We Are Legion from The Pirate Bay. I was being stopped and searched for my Guy Fawkes mask on a regular basis. Florida is a depressing place. Everyone is drugged out, and not in the good ways. This movie provided me comfort that I was backing the right flag. We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect Us…

                15 – Parmy Olson interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show June 18, 2012, Comedy Central

                Parmy breaks down Anonymous for the masses on the most trusted news source on cable. She did a fantastic job of explaining the movement. Once again I felt relief knowing there’s a culture built around transparency. It was a whistleblower’s dream. The more of us that exist as real people in the media, the harder it is to attack Anonymous. We are the internet’s first defense, and we’re 100% nonviolent.

                16 – Wikipedia “Protests against SOPA and PIPA

                Don’t use Wikipedia for a source. Do use Wikipedia for a story and cite their sources. Everyone will tell you not to use Wikipedia. Everyone has an opinion as to why it’s inaccurate. Yet it’s one of the largest websites on the internet. Why? When Wikipedia and other websites shut down to stop CISPA’s predecessors, SOPA and PIPA, the world fell to its knees and pulled the controversial bills. Clearly everyone is lying about not using the top search result for nearly every search online.

                17 – Brian Penny “30 Best Movies  of All Time” Lifehack.org

                I can’t help but laugh knowing I’ve appeared in the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, and countless other news outlets fighting the banks, and the most controversy I ignited is over a list of the best movies of all time. People don’t like having their opinions questioned. I can’t help but continue trolling by adding myself twice to this accomplished list.

                18 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr “Letter from a Birgmingham Jail” April 16, 1963

                Dr. King sat in Birmingham jail for breaking an unjust law. From there, he wrote some brilliant ideas. One of them was this letter to address the local Clergymen who accused him of being a hypocrite for breaking a law. He brilliantly differentiates a just law from an unjust law and questions their own allegiance to justice by sitting around doing nothing. When I couldn’t find the answers I needed in life, I turned to the Doc.

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                19 – Richard Sears “Scientology is a criminal organization…” November 18, 2009, UK Daily Mail

                Scientology is fascinating. To their merit, they are excellent with nonviolent defense. They expertly troll governments and small businesses using attorneys and PR—this I enjoy and agree with. Their financial and technical sense could use a lot of advancement, though. I personally believe transparency is necessary to control corruption, and too many things smelled fishy in Clearwater, FL.

                20 – Matt Taibbi “As Bradley Manning Trial Begins, Press Predictably Misses the Point” June 6, 2013, Rolling Stone

                I’ve followed Taibbi’s pieces on the mortgage industry for a few years now. He doesn’t pull any punches. Seeing him involved in the Bradley Manning trial is brilliant. Manning is a hero, and he deserves our respect and attention. I love that Rolling Stone is covering his trial, and Taibbi especially. Pay close attention to this trial, as a lot of our human freedoms are on the line.

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                Published on May 18, 2021

                How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

                How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

                We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

                The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

                Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

                Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

                Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

                There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

                Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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                Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

                We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

                Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

                A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

                The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

                Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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                Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

                Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

                Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

                While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

                Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

                These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

                Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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                Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

                Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

                Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

                Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

                Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

                Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

                As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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                This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

                Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

                Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

                These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

                Actions Speak Louder Than Words

                Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

                Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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                Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

                More Tips Improving Listening Skills

                Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

                Reference

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