Newsletters and Blog Posts
Faster Than You
October, 4 2017
Google Fiber - The Comcast Killer

A woman runs into a friend who asks how things are going.
The woman says, “I’d complain, but how long would you listen?”

You know a wife is being unfaithful when the dog takes the husband’s pipe and slippers across the street.

Q. How many cable company employees does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. Two. One to insist that it’s being taken care of, and the other to screw it in to a water faucet.



Creative Corner

Having only two options, I have used Comcast or AT&T for internet service for at least 15 years. As most people I have spoken with, I have never been thrilled with either company, just like I wouldn’t be thrilled with the electric company if my electricity was off regularly.

It has been interesting recently to see both companies scramble. AT&T has suddenly been adding their faster U-verse product as fast as possible in the Nashville suburbs. Comcast has also ramped up their speed to a level far beyond what any homeowner can use. This sounds great, except the internet is still down at least once a day. In my testing, when the internet is down, 100 megabits per second is the same as ZERO megabits per second.

The interesting thing is the reason for all of this recent hustle - Google Fiber has come to Nashville and they are expanding quickly. Comcast has been running commercials in the area about how they are faster and better than Google. Their latest commercials are saying they had an epiphany and their new focus is customer service. They even smile when they say it.

The whole ordeal reminds me of the two guys who are running from a Bear and one of them says he doesn't have to outrun the bear, he only has to outrun the other guy. Google Fiber only has to be better than AT&T and Comcast to get everyone’s business, hardly outrunning a bear.

The Real Lesson? If the two companies had a great product and good customer service for the last 15 years, they would have nothing to worry about. This should be a reminder to all of us, to make sure we do our best for our customers, before the Google of our industry comes to town.


When the Horse is dead, get off.

THE Motivational Speaker!!!
September, 10 2017
Sparkman with Zig Ziglar - The World's Greatest Speaker

One woman says to another, “Can you believe that Doris? She has no common sense.
She’s mean, coldblooded, and has no soul. She’s rotten to the core.”
The other woman said, “How can you talk that way about her?”
“Why not? I’m her best friend.”



Creative Corner

For my money the best sales and motivational speaker was Zig Ziglar.My mother owned almost every book and tape series that he released. When I was young I went with her to see him speak several times and we were in the audience when he recorded one of his audio tape sets (now they are on CDs of course - https://www.ziglar.com/online-store-new/ .) I also got to meet him briefly after that program.

ITS WHO YOU KNOW
I did not really get to spend time with him until my buddy from the last newsletter, Cadillac Jack, introduced me. Zig and Jack were friends - top salesman have a lot to talk about. When Zig had a seminar in Little Rock, Jack asked me to attend.

I squeezed it in and drove into town the morning of the seminar and walked in just late. Instead of sitting in the back row, Jack walked me up to the VIP section. The program was fantastic! When it was time for lunch, Jack had me in the room with Zig, he introduced us and we spent time together.

I am still thankful that Jack made sure I got to know one of my heroes and I cannot think of one of them without thinking about the other.

In my experience, reaching out to new people always has its rewards. It will expand your comfort zone. It will help you make new friends like Cadillac Jack. You never know where those friends can take you, maybe through the velvet ropes to the World’s Greatest Sales Trainer.

Zig, someday I’ll See You At The Top.


Heartburn is a sickness brought on by a friend’s sudden success.

Always Selling, by Serving
June 25, 2017
Sparkman with Cadillac Jack at Zig Ziglar Seminar

One Avon lady had great technique.
fter the door is opened, she says to the lady of the house, “You won’t believe what I saw in your neighbor’s bedroom. May I come in and tell you about it?”



A manufacturer says to a friend, “ I feel miserable. This morning, my best salesman died.”
“What did he have?”
“New England and upstate New York.”



Creative Corner

Creative Corner Businesses must have income to pay their employees, associations need members, Television needs advertisers; well you get the point. We are not all salespeople, but unless you work for the government, you are paid from sales.

So we should all be salespeople. We don’t have to sell anything, just being good at our job, and making customers happy is a form of selling.

I was entertaining at a Trade Show in Little Rock years ago and I met the famous Cadillac Jack. Jack was the top Cadillac salesman in the state and it seemed like everyone knew him. I was fortunate enough to hear him speak and he loved magic, so we instantly hit it off.

Jack is now retired, but he had a great checklist that he used to “qualify” a new customer. This made his time seem valuable and the potential customer was taken aback as they were being “qualified.” He always got a smile when his final qualifying question was, “What is your favorite dessert?”

Jack went out of his way to make the sale, he would deliver your new car anywhere in the state, service it when you were out of town, and guess what he delivered on your birthday - your favorite dessert. Eventually Jack did not have to qualify many new customers, his time was filled selling new Cadillacs to his regular customers.

Jack knew that it was much easier keep a customer than to get a new one. He also knew that a happy customer was likely to spread the word. I am sure if you had the chance to talk to Jack, he would challenge you - regardless of your job - to make your customers happy they met you.


NO LONGER A JOKE
Congress loves to adjourn and go home.
If I was my congressman, I’d be afraid to go home.


Emotional Hook and the Medicine Show
June 25, 2017
Boris Karloff as Captain Hook

When somebody does something for your own good.
You can be certain that you won’t like it.


I asked the salesman to show me something cheap.
He said, “Look in the mirror.”


The patient says, “Nobody listens to a word I say.”
The psychiatrist says, “Next.”


Creative Corner

Creative Corner The compelling presentations that I have discussed in recent newsletters all have one thing in common - an emotional hook.

In my Corporate Creativity Speech, I discuss our general tendency to think that other people are like us. They have the same likes and dislikes, vote the same way, have similar hobbies, feelings, wants, needs…

In reality, many (if not most) people are different than we are, in most of those areas. Typically, the friends we choose have the most in common with us, which is probably why we tend to think “Everyone” feels like we do.

While this is a good thing to be aware of, it is absolutely essential if we want to reach a person.

Whether we are marketing a product, raising a child, writing a song, starting an intervention, or helping a friend, we need to know the feelings of the person or group we are trying to reach. You don’t have to listen to too many country songs to learn that even tough guys have emotions and that is what reaching people is all about… an emotional hook.

All good movies, song lyrics, books, even clowns and magicians, reach the emotions of their audience. Creators reach a large audience by writing from the heart. We can reach an individual audience by putting ourselves in their moccasins.

Whether we are selling widgets or life changing advice, we need to bring wisdom and logic to the conversation. We make the sale appealing with an emotional hook.

So go out and have your next important conversation.



The world’s greatest salesman sold a milking machine to a farmer with one cow.
Then he took the cow as a downpayment.


One More Compelling Presentation
June 25, 2017
Steve Jobs hired John Sculley and he fired Steve Jobs

Q. Why did the worker at the Pepsi bottling plant get fired?
A. He tested positive for Coke.


Q. How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?
A. None, it’s a hardware problem.


Q. How do you know when a convict has been on your computer?
A. It’s gone.


Creative Corner

The final Compelling Presentation - until I think of another one. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple in 1985. That is the way Steve tells it, and the way it has always been reported. The person who fired him, John Sculley, says that they had a disagreement about how to save the company in a period of declining sales. Sculley said Steve was asked to leave the Macintosh division but he was never fired, he resigned. Since this statement was made via twitter in 2015, I am not sure I buy the Sculley side of the story. However the removal of Steve from Apple was an ironic twist since Steve Jobs was the one who hired Sculley as CEO.

John Sculley was the President of Pepsi Cola and is credited with the “Pepsi Challenge.” Pepsi conducted blind taste tests in which people tasted Pepsi and Coke and picked their favorites. Of course, on the commercials Pepsi always won. This was a genius marketing gimmick that significantly helped Pepsi gain market share in the early eighties.

Steve Jobs wanted Sculley to bring his creative marketing genius to Apple Computer. He brought Sculley to Cupertino, gave him the multi-million dollar tour and practically begged him to be Apple’s CEO. Sculley was declining the position until Steve said, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” That one sentence, compelled Sculley to leave Pepsi and come to Apple.

Fortunately, Steve eventually returned to Apple and in many ways, changed the world.

A great creative exercise is to develop compelling sentences to persuade our kids, customers, employees, and friends.

A chemical engineer, electrical engineer, and a Microsoft engineer are on a road trip. The car breaks down.

The electrical engineer looks under the hood and can't find anything wrong.

The chemical engineer checks the oil and fuel and can't find anything wrong.

The Microsoft engineer says, "Close all the windows, and try again."


Compelling Coaching
February 19, 2017
Vanderbilt University

My daughter has taken 10 math courses, and all she knows is the shortest distance between two points is my car.

One college kid wrote home, “Mom and Dad, I have been worried sick because I have not heard from you. Please send me a check so I know you’re ok.”

Q. How many football players does it take to change a light bulb?
A. One, but he gets three credits for it.


Creative Corner

I want to give another example of a Compelling Presentation.

It is widely reported that the Southeastern Conference is the toughest football conference.
This fact is well supported because 9 of the last 10 National Championships were won by a SEC team.

James Franklin was the coach of Vanderbilt for 3 years before becoming the head coach at Penn State in 2014. He brought Vanderbilt success that they had never seen before in football.

In case you are not a football fan, Vanderbilt is considered one of the top universities in America from an educational perspective, but football was not one of its strengths. This would not be so bad if they played Harvard and Yale, but they are in the SEC and have to take on LSU and Alabama. They were additionally hindered because Vanderbilt requires athletes to have higher ACT scores than other schools.

Although the NCAA has strict limitations on all of college sports, there is at least one annual recruiting event that can have entertainment. I was hired to entertain football prospects at one of these events and I met Coach Franklin and heard him speak.

He was speaking to prospects that had not signed with a school. However, they were all leaning toward playing for other universities, most with mediocre football teams. During his talk, Coach Franklin encouraged them to attend Vanderbilt, because they would get a World Class education that they can use when football is over for them, and they can play in the SEC.

Coach Franklin had two things those kids wanted, a great education and a chance to play the best that football had to offer. Franklin’s pitch was a big reason he was able to recruit better talent at Vanderbilt and build a program that could compete in the SEC.

We can make our words powerful and memorable if we tap into the wants and needs of our audience.

Q. What does a college kid consider a balanced diet?
A. A beer in each hand.


The King of Compelling
January 19, 2017
Bill Atkinson made software for the first Macintosh

My computer is just like a human, when it makes a mistake, it blames another computer.

I had a terrible day at work. My computer broke and I had to think all day.

Working at my company is so stressful, the computer has an ulcer.


Creative Corner

Last Time I mentioned an event in which I spoke. One of the informative industry speakers mentioned that although her content was great, they would REMEMBER what I said.

You don’t have to use magic to illustrate your message, but you do need to make it compelling if you want your information to be remembered.

Steve Jobs may have been the King of Compelling. There are several great books about him. Steve probably had more warts than he had genius, but he did change your world - even if you never owned an Apple product.

Bill Atkinson was in Seattle working on his PhD in Biology in 1978 when Apple only had 30 employees. He was courted to be a programmer because Bill used computers for his work in biology. He enjoyed his tour of the campus but was headed home to work on his PhD when Jobs mentioned how fun it was to surf on the front of the wave, as opposed to dog paddling on the back of the wave.

He hooked Bill when he told him, “You read about the latest computer technology coming out of Seattle two years after it is developed. If you work here, you will be riding the wave and you will help change the future (paraph),”

Bill immediately began working for Apple, he never got his PhD, and he wrote software that made the first Macintosh work. He changed the future. If we can give our audiences a compelling Steve Jobs hook, maybe they will change their own future.

They’ve developed computers that can respond to the human voice.
Now if they could only get customer support at the cable company to do it.


Do They Remember Your Message?
November 21, 2016
Sparkman thinks about creativity

If you can keep your head about you when all others are losing theirs,
you are probably the cause of it all.


Two can live as cheaply as one, but not as long.


No work is impossible, without a committee.


Creative Corner

Over the years I have spoken at many corporate events. They usually have a central focus like team-building, training, improving sales, etc. The organizers give me information that they want delivered, and I make that information into a presentation that is informative and entertaining.

I had not been doing this long, when I was hired to speak on a day of training for managers at a large power company. There were some industry heavies and a famous person on the bill, and I was a little nervous.

I had 3 short presentations during the day, but the first one was right before lunch. I followed an important speaker from FedEx. She had great information, but she was as dry as day old toast. As I listened to her my nervousness disappeared because, from a presentational perspective, she was easy to follow. I did my first spot and the people were engaged, responsive, laughing, and they all wanted to meet me in the following break.

During the break, I saw the speaker who preceded me and complimented her on the fantastic information that she presented. Her response was, “Yeah, but they will remember what you said!”

She was right, but you don’t need to hire a magician every time you want your information to be remembered. You do need to deliver the information in a memorable way. (to be continued…)

He who laughs last, probably had it explained to him.


When you know it's coming... Be Prepared
November 21, 2016
Andy Roberts - Number One Player in the World

Q. What is red and bad for your teeth?
A. A Brick


Q. What do you do when you see a spaceman?
A. Park in it, man!


Creative Corner

Creative Corner Last time I mentioned my stagnant racquetball game. While there are many areas of my game that I am trying to improve, I discussed a 3 step procedure designed to improve my approach to serving. I put this procedure in place because my great serving game, had become inconsistent.

I also mentioned the visualization taught by my friend Andy Roberts, former world’s number one professional racquetball player. He expressed the importance of a great serve. He said, “The serve is the only time that you get to drop the ball and hit it.” Of course this gives you much more potential of hitting a good shot than chasing down a 150 mph ball hit by your opponent.

In our daily lives, how often do we get to hit our own ball?
      A planned meeting with the boss.
      A problem to discuss with a coworker or employee.
      An issue with a child or spouse.

Whenever, we have the opportunity to serve in an important conversation we should make the most of it. We should prepare what we are going to say and even rehearse it. We should anticipate responses and be ready to address them. This techniques are used by great salespeople and great athletes, use them to your advantage.

Q. What the the overly excited gardener do when spring finally arrived?
A. He wet his plants!


10 Steps to make a Million
November 21, 2016
Rocky Carson dives to hit a racquetball

I like Bowling better than golf. I bowled for 3 hours and didn’t lose one ball.


Creative Corner

I love systems, formulas, or procedures. I am not a chef, but I can follow a recipe. Wouldn’t it be great if everything we wanted to accomplish had a foolproof, multi-step process. For example - Make a million dollars by following these 10 steps.

Unfortunately, I don’t know the foolproof 10 steps to a million, but I can illustrate a way that you can apply your own steps to solve your problems.

I play competitive racquetball. I have had frustration recently as I have been losing to people I used to beat. They are winning because they have improved their problem areas which I used to exploit. I am losing because I have remained stagnant. So, I have gotten coaching. While my coach is helping me improve my problem areas, I am remembering former training that I have slowly forgotten over the years.

When I was coached by a former number one ranked pro he told me to visualize the serve I want to make, before I go into my service motion. I often approach the service box with other things on my mind like, “I have to make great serves to catch up,” or “Only 2 more points to win.” These mental thoughts do not improve my play, so I have recently given myself a 3 step serving procedure.

1. Visualize the serve going exactly where I want to put it.
2. Watch the ball as I make my swing.
3. Run out of the service box prepared for the next shot.


Why not make a short procedure for your “issues.” For example, if you are afraid of public speaking…

1. Take a deep breath.
2. Visualize the audience in their underwear.
3. Try not to laugh.


Well that may not be your exact procedure, but the point is make your own procedure for your weak spots.
Training (coaching) doesn't hurt either.

Mountain Climbers say they climb mountains, “Because they’re there.”
Of course, that’s why most of us go around them.


The Picnic Master
November 7, 2016
Corporate Picnic

My friend was constantly lying to his wife about playing cards.
He came home late one night and she said,”Don’t tell me you’ve been up all night with a sick friend, holding his hand.”
He said, “No, If I’d been holding his hand, I’d have made a lot of money!”



Life is a poker game - it takes a pair to open
He shows her diamonds.
She calls his bluff.
They end up with a full house.


Creative Corner

Last Time I mentioned one of the picnics where I entertained for Preston Medlock last year. He has finally completed changing his company name from Presto Partyz to PicnicMaster. http://picnicmaster.com

I mention him again because he has developed a creative company that stays ahead of the curve to make company picnics and other large events a memorable experience. I love his story.

Preston was a very successful salesman and when I first met him he sold pipe and plumbing supplies. Way back in 1993 his oldest child was having his 4th birthday and Preston’s wife asked him to dance in a purple dinosaur costume for the party. His dinosaur was such a hit and guests wanted to hire him for their parties on the spot. He eventually had dozens of costumes and entertaining routines to go with them. Birthday Parties led to corporate events and eventually he began buying climbing walls and other equipment. Today he can produce complete picnics for thousands of people.

Preston did the most important thing we can do with a big idea, he gave it a try. He dropped things that did not work and expanded areas that did work until he eventually quit selling pipe and became The Picnic Master.

American’s spend 80 billion a year on games of chance, mostly weddings.

It's Getting Frio
October 24, 2016

Pro Football features a game in which 22 perfect specimens get a three-hour workout,
while the 100 million fans who need the exercise, sit back and watch them.



Football - game in which 11 men spend hours trying to move a small object a hundred yards.
Reminds me of the Post Office.


The Not So - Creative Corner

Preston Medlock hired me for my first large gig when magic was still my hobby. It was a grand opening of a large, swanky mall in a Memphis Suburb. About 20 variety entertainers were there for a week. If you need a guy who can play a tuba while riding a unicycle, you know who to call.

Preston also had a real job a the time. He now owns "Picnic Master" and his main business is large company picnics. He still hires me occasionally and last October I was entertaining at a huge picnic in the plains of Missouri. The company annually invites the whole town to the picnic, but it was unseasonably cold and windy last year. Preston covered the dining area with a tent top large enough for Ringling Bros. They must have had some form of heaters because it was warm under the big top. (Yes, I went to Engineering school but at the time I was focused on robbing people of their reality.)

I am fluent in Hand Motion Spanglish. I can perform some card tricks in Spanish, but for everything else I use my personal version of Spanish and my skills at Charades. I ran into an older Hispanic couple who could not speak English. They were obviously freezing and I asked, “Tienes Frio?” in my best Speedy Gonzales accent. They were cold, so I proceeded to point them to the tent top and tell them it was calor in there. It turns out that El Tent Topo does not mean anything in Spanish, but pointing your finger works with everybody.

Football confuses me. Each team has a dozen beautiful cheerleaders,
but when the team scores, the players hug each other.


YouTube Creators
October 12, 2016
Carpenter Makes Secret Bookcase Entrance

A carpenter’s apprentice goes to a lumberyard and asks them if they have 2x4s.
The lumber salesman says “Yes, how long do you need them?”
The apprentice says, “A long time, we are building a house.”



A carpenter accidentally cuts his ear off and loses it on the floor.
His partner points to an ear on the floor and says, “Is that it?”
The carpenter says, “Nope, mine has a pencil behind it.”


Creative Corner

I often tell people that there are incredible opportunities for learning on YouTube. There are great examples of creativity there as well. Lately, I have been watching the amazing abilities of carpenters and metal workers.

Fine carpentry requires skill, attention to detail, diligence, dedication, and perseverance. When the carpenter’s creation looks complete, he may still have hours of sanding and staining left to do. What really impresses me is a carpenter who can make his own plans for a project. This is where the creativity takes place. He takes all of his knowledge of materials, structure, mathematics, and construction to design a custom product.

There is a good example with Bob of “I Like to Make Stuff" linked at the bottom of this post.

Creativity requires experience and thorough knowledge of your job. When you have developed these tools, you can begin to get creative and try new approaches that expand from your foundational abilities.

Bob goes to see his boss at the Millwork Shop.
He says, “Boss we are doing some heavy house cleaning tomorrow and my wife needs me to help.”
The boss replies, “We’re short handed, I can’t give you the day off.”
Bob says, “Thanks Boss! I knew I could count on you!”


I Like to Make Stuff
Talent and Skills are Developed
October 3, 2016

A man just ran through 3 lights in a row, they were on the truck in front of him.


90% of accidents occur in the kitchen, and my wife cooked quite a few of them.

Creative Corner

I have been writing about music in general and the Suzuki Music Method in particular, in an effort to refute the “I’m not Creative,” myth. I find that the common thought is that people are born with Creative Abilities, Athletic Abilities, Intelligence etc. In fact when I speak on creativity, my first illustration is an amazing math stunt that anyone could learn. I perform this stunt to “prove” that we can learn anything with work and a good system. Yes some people do seem to be born with talent, but that should not stop us from pursuing an interest for which we feel unqualified.

I started playing piano at age 6 and got into college on band scholarship with my trumpet. However, I will never forget when I watched a class of 4 year olds learning to hear an A (the tuning note for the violin). The teacher would sing an A and the kids would grab it from the air and put it in their ear. Then they would sing the A. At the end of the class, the teacher would sing an A, and the kids were told to put it in their ear and not release it until they were in the hall. The kids that continued playing violin for a few years can give you an A at any time.

Throughout my years of music I was amazed at my friends who had “perfect” or “relative” pitch. Years later I learned it was something they developed. I certainly would have been a better musician if I had known it in those days. You don’t have to be a child to learn to play an instrument or improve your pitch. I have seen many older kids and adults take up the violin and they learn much quicker than little ones because they have a greater aptitude and longer attention span.

I’m already thinking about taxes and my accountant told me, “We can get your books to balance if you strike oil on the way home.”

Dr. Suzuki Part III
September 19, 2016

Last week I included old jokes (literally and figuratively) so turnabout is fair play…

“Sherry, How do you keep your youth?”
“I lock him in my closet!”

...there may be two jokes in this one

Father: “Billy, did you take my car out last night?”
Son: “I went for a spin with a couple of the guys.”
Father: “Well, I found their lipsticks.”


Creative Corner

My Mother was the catalyst that got our daughters involved in Suzuki Violin training. I am the parent of two accomplished musicians which are A student’s at difficult schools. They are also well adjusted Christian kids. A great deal of time and effort goes into raising well balanced kids, and I am still not sure that my wife and I know what we are doing. I do know that the daily discipline of practicing music perfectly was challenging work for us and the kids. When I saw how easy school was for them compared to other students, I knew it was worth it.

During the Suzuki heavy years, I observed kids with all levels of music ability, learn to play instruments well. I often had the pleasure of watching over 100 kids playing music for hours with no signs of ADHD or bad behavior. My kids were not born with natural music talent, and they don’t have particularly high IQ’s. So, I asked one of the greatest Suzuki teachers in the country if all of his students did well in school. He told me they do well at everything. Their daily practice and music memorization set the stage for their whole life.

Hard work, hard play, Great Citizens! Just what Dr. Suzuki wanted.

The clever youngster said, “Dad, here’s my report card, and here’s one of yours I found in the attic."

Creating Good Citizens
September 10, 2016

A man went to the doctor who told him he would live to be 80. The man said,  "I’m 85.”
The Doctor said, “I told you.”


I have a friend whose 80 and he does 20 push-ups a day. Not on purpose, he just falls down a lot.

Creative Corner

In my last letter I told you that the great Dr. Suzuki spent his life teaching children to play music. However, he had no problem with the fact that most did not pursue music as adults. Dr. Suzuki said he was not out to create professional musicians. He wanted to create good citizens. He has helped create thousands of professional musicians and hundreds of thousands of good citizens.

One way these students became great citizens is due to the statistics that show music students excel at math and science. Additionally Suzuki students memorize all of their music. When you have learned to store a Bach concerto in your head, memorizing for school is, well, child’s play. So music students become good school students that get good jobs and so on. More Next Time…

Remember - Youth is always ready to give Maturity the benefit of it’s experience.

The Greatest Pedagogue of the 20th Century
September 5, 2016

Yes the Pillsbury Dough Boy Died, he had a yeast infection.

Of course they all laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedy magician, but no one’s laughing now.

Creative Corner

Many people say the greatest pedagogue of the 20th century was Shinichi Suzuki. He was the guy who developed the Suzuki Violin training method. Like all great creative solutions, his program began with a simple idea… Suzuki thought that Japanese is a difficult language, but all Japanese children learn to speak it. Why can’t all children learn to play a musical instrument. More on Dr. Suzuki in the next blog.

Definition - Vegetarian: An American Indian word that means "Bad Hunter."