I started my career in advertising as a writer and later went into management. I loved every minute of it. I thought positioning concepts, framing issues, great headlines and parsing words was the road to success and it was for quite some time. But over the years, I also developed a passion for the stock market so I sold my stock in the company and joined one of my clients, a regional, rapidly growing brokerage firm, as a stockbroker.
As you can imagine, it didn’t take long before I realized that message positioning, issue framing, sensational headlines and parsed words could also be the path to ruin.
So after the market kicked me around for a while and I screamed a few expletives, I realized that simply reading more or watching more TV couldn’t fill my information gap. I had to find a way to turn “news” into real, usable information. To really gain insight and knowledge, I had to stop simply absorbing the news and start challenging the news: That meant what? Why wasn’t this mentioned? Why was this set of statistics used? You get the idea. I had to become an aggressive reader and listener. Not to be negative, but to uncover the real story. The market doesn’t care about your biases or your feelings; it’s non-partisan and only cares about reality.
So I started to develop my own critical thinking model. I needed to find a process I could use repeatedly to “attack” any story and turn misleading or inaccurate information into knowledge I could use for analysis, scenario development and decision-making. Following is a list of the seven-step process I use. Try it; I think you will like it.
1. Identify the argument (what is the issue, the conclusion and reasons the author used to justify the conclusion)
2. Define ambiguous concepts and words (is the author’s definition and yours identical, you had better find out)
3. Uncover the author's assumptions (we tend to look at things with from an historical reference or bias; if you don’t know the author’s, it will be harder to separate fact from fiction)
4. Examine the evidence (will the evidence hold up under examination, is the logic of the authors argument valid, were the statistics used properly)
5. Identify missing information (usually time or space is a constraint on any story, so what didn’t the author state or explain)
6. Determine causes and effects (we know causes are hard to identify, there is almost always more than one and they are usually multi-dimensional)
7. Draw conclusions (at this point, you can agree or disagree with the author’s view of the argument, or look for additional possibilities or answers)
This process, or one like it, results in more accurate information. The kind of information and data points you need to make better decisions.
Jim can be reached at 612-978-7222 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out my blog: paradigm adjustment
“Our attendees were glued to theirs seats as he skillfully taught them what they needed to know to interpret and understand the predictions of economists. Our goal was to provide our attendees with information that they could use directly in their business planning and Mr. Zitek more than delivered on that goal."
John R. Groundwater,
Passenger Vessel Association
If your goal is to deliver, in an hour or less, a fresh, uncorrupted, realistic view of why the economy behaves the way it does and why the markets repeatedly soar and then plunge back to earth, again and again; you have found your speaker.
Jim Zitek is a well-regarded, yet provocative keynote and breakout session speaker on the topics of Critical Thinking Skills and applying those skills to better understand, interpret and anticipate where the economy and markets are headed.
His walk around, passionate style is laced with a touch of irreverence and humor; plus his understanding of the three main economic viewpoints used by our politicians and economists make his message easy to understand and use immediately.
“Jim was our last keynote presenter and he tied all of their information together nicely in a package that got our attendees to think about how they hear and evaluate information to draw their own conclusions.”
Dale Yohnke, Norfth Central electrical League
Most Popular Presentations1. Help. The News Is Driving Me Crazy!
It's time to stop talking back to the TV and throwing the newspaper against the wall. We know the information we get from the media is often sensationalized, misleading and very often not relevant. We also know it is up to us untangle this information before using it.
This is not only true for the general news, it is absolutely true for political and economic news.
Yet, most people know or have a general idea of where the economy and markets are headed. The major issues -like GDP or job growth, inflation, sovereign or consumer debt, budgets, etc.- are argued by dueling experts everyday in the media.
We may know the direction; but the problem is we don’t know the exact end point or how we are going to get there or when we will be get there. For example:
1. When will this recession end, what has to happen?
2. When will inflation begin to surge and how bad could it get?
3. When will discretionary income (income after taxes) begin to rise again?
4. When will housing prices bottom and begin to climb again?
5. When will consumer debt get back to normal so credit can be used again?
6. When will the remaining bubbles pop?
This kind of information we cannot get from media headlines. This requires understanding the real stories behind the headlines. Not the political party story, the popular story or the “TV experts” story. This information is available, but it takes some digging, some critical thinking to get the correct answers.
That’s why I created this new presentation, “Help! The News Is Driving Me Crazy.” This Keynote or Breakout Session presentation shows how to use my seven-step, critical thinking process to find the answers to today’s critical issues…to determine probable outcomes, how we get to those outcomes and when. It explains the process and the results.
Call 612-978-7222 to reserve a date or to get additional information. You can also e-mail me at email@example.com. All presentation can be customized to your theme and time frame.
2. Leaders Turn Conflict Into Consensus
Outstanding leaders have a vision of the future and are capable of persuading others to follow them in that vision. This is as true for problem solving and planning as it is for any corporate mission. The major problem in achieving this goal is that it doesn’t seem to matter what the argument is about or what the facts are because everyone thinks they have the same “facts” so their interpretation of those facts can be all over the place. But, most of the time they do not have the same facts or all of the facts. That's why you usually end up with different, even opposite solutions, policies and conclusions. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Note: All programs can be customized to fit your theme, objectives and time constraints.
"Jim, your presentation to the Critical Thinking Club was insightful and provoked considerable thought from the audience. Thanks again for a fine job."
Lee Salisbery, Founder, Critical Thinking Club