More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

Why speakers need eye contact from listeners

As a speaker, you need to give the appropriate amount of eye contact to your listeners. But you also need to get eye contact from your audience. Their eye contact provides valuable information that can help you give your speech.
Read more »

“The youth of old age”

But it doesn’t make it less miserable. (From

I’m about to start my third year of my fifties, and I’m not liking this age very much. When a decade of my life starts with appendicitis, it can’t be a good sign. Although my fifties have given me my first international trip and enabled me to afford all sorts of cool and useful gadgets, “the youth of old age” offers neither the pleasures of youth nor the benefits of old age.

Permit me to grouse a bit about why it stinks to be in one’s fifties.
Read more »

Germany, Paula Deen, and the Burden of History

Holocaust Memorial in Freiburg, Germany

A Holocaust memorial in Freiburg, Germany.

I had a wonderful business trip in Germany. I went to Freiburg, a charming city at the foot of the Black Forest with a cathedral dating from the Middle Ages and a modern concern for the environment. The people were friendly and patiently accepted my inability to speak German. I enjoyed delicious food and great company.

As a Jew, I have to look at Germany differently. Even if you’re not Jewish, Germany provides an important lesson about dealing with history.

Read more »

Why I publish independently

Offline at Barnes and Noble

Yes, you can get your independently published book in bookstores.

When I finished my first novel Offline in 2004, I had a choice. I could have gone through the traditional route and found an agent, who would find a publisher, who would take the book through the production process until it wound up in bookstores. Or I could publish my book independently and get it out to the public right away. I chose the latter route.

Unfortunately, the discussion about independent and traditional publishing has turned into an “Fandroid versus iSheep” style flame war with John Green as the latest to throw some NSFW fireballs. Although I feel the same way he does about Ayn Rand, I find his attack on independent publishing disappointing — especially when you compare it with his comments about independent producers versus the establishment when it comes to TV.

Read more »

Advice to fathers

My daughter and me, 1993Twenty years ago, I became a father for the first time. When the doctor handed me my newborn daughter, I wished he also handed me a manual that told me how to be a father. But if such a manual existed, it would have to be revised monthly. Errata pages would be released on a daily basis, entire sections would be missing, and half of it would not even apply. And who would be qualified to write such a manual? A number of people have tried, and some of them have done more harm than good.

I doubt that I could write such a manual. I know I’m not a perfect parent. In fact, a number of things have happened in the past few years that make me question my own competence. But there is one piece of advice I can give that I know works.

Read more »