How something broken, jagged and harmful can be turned into a beautiful and calming “jewel”

I  can be a cranky dad sometimes – cutting in my comments and very impatient. These days I keep this photo on my computer to remind myself to be smoother and  less “jagged and cutting” in my responses to my children – smoother with my words and my volume.
sea glass – rough, jagged glass smoothed out by time in the sea churned by the waves!
Broken bottles that are  potentially harmful and “ugly” rubbish can be turned into beautiful “jewels”.
I even keep a smooth piece of glass in my pocket and another in my wallet – to remind me to try to behave calm and smooth when I tend to get annoyed.
seaglass sun
Sea glass is a great visual and tactile reminder. The sight and feel  of sea glass immediately “transports” me back to blissful memories of the beach with my son. You should try it too! Sea glass can remind you to keep your voice, your breathing, and your temper nice and smooth.
O early morning
My daughter loves searching for sea glass too.
kids sea glass
The sea glass search the kids busy for hours. They get so excited as if they are discovering precious jewels – especially when they find a piece that’s green or blue!






So who is writing this and what does he know abut being a busy dad/parent?


Hi, I’m Tony Biancotti – dad/ husband/ corporate communication consultant

I work as a corporate consultant and trainer offering advice and teaching leading executives how to improve their communication, presentation, and persuasion.

the serious corporate side – teaching and training others

At this stage of my life ‘though, I am craving getting advice and learning from others about a vital topic – How to be a Better Dad.

Cleo, My inner child (young Tony), Orlando

My wife Monique and I have two gorgeous children (Yes, of course we are biased – like every parent!) – Orlando (8) and Cleo (5).

My wife Monique and me BC – before children

As Monique will tell you, I have my strengths as a dad  (and husband) – but I also have my struggles:

– I can be too task focused and get grumpy with delays in achieving KPIs (Kid Performance Indicators – e.g. getting ready for school, bringing home lunch boxes and shoes etc.)

– I can get resentful of the restrictions placed on my once free and adventure-filled life

– I can be so focused on working to secure a future for my family – that I am often not always present in enjoying the present (I’m there physically but not mentally).

Do you share any of these “struggles”?

I want to learn (and share) tips from so many of the great dads I see around me. These dads may not be perfect in every way – but they all have certain tips to share.

This topic is important to me and as a former journalist, I enjoy “interviewing” and packaging the life experience and expertise from others.

This morning I chatted to a dad  who was dropping off his son at the school my son goes to. The dad (John) like me looks like he started a family later in life – but he is at a stage where has positioned himself in his career so he can work his finance job from 9 a.m.  to 2 p.m.  so he can do drop-offs and pick-ups.

In our “car park chat” we spoke about how he can be more productive in those work hours and be fully-engaged with his son outside of work hours. As you can imagine, I want to learn more from John. He looks like he has “got it together”!

I recently started a project (the Chris Adams Project) where I capture the business wisdom from an American movie and Facebook exec, Chris Adams, who now lives in Brisbane.

Chris Adams and family – wife Sharon and son Cooper

Apart from all is business knowledge, one of the things I really admire about Chris is his dedication to his wife Sharon and his son Cooper. I want to learn more from him about work-life balance.  He helped bring to life films that won 4 Academy Awards. He is also a children’s author – a project  that evolved from his wanting to tell stories to his son. There’s so much on the family side I want to learn from Chris.

My best mate from law school, Terry, became a dad more than 10 years before I did. One of the things I admire most about Terry is his dedication to his family and the way he encourages his kids to pursue their talents and passions. He has been down the parent path before me – and I constantly seek his counsel. I reckon he’ll really be valuable when my kids become teenagers! He’s been through that already.

My law school buddy Terry – a wise counsel!

Anyway, you now know the objective of this blog (Oh no, I’m sounding corporate!). It’s written from a dad’s perspective – but if you are a mum and would like tips for the “Dad” in your life you’re welcome to be part of the project. We might even set up a “sister-site” – busy mum to better mum. I’ll ask my wife to get involved because she is a hard-working super-mum (of course I’m biased again).



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Do you enjoy eating “butter worms”? Find out about the childlike bliss of butter worms.

The childlike bliss of  “Butter worms”

Don’t you love it when you are with friends and you feel so comfortable you can be your true self – even if that “true self” acts like a kid?

What “childish” food or drink treats do you like to create – when you are not trying to act  all mature and sophisticated?

For me, some of my favourites include:

  1. Milo sprinkled on ice cream
  2. Creaming Soda Spiders…and
  3. Butter worms

If you hadn’t heard of butter worms – you’re not alone. I didn’t even know there was a term for butter worms!

I hadn’t heard the expression “butter worms” before yesterday until a friend used it to describe one of her favourite treats as she made them with child-like glee. She is an adult in a serious, high-pressure job (when she’d not clowning around making butter worms!)

Me wife, our friend and I just returned from an afternoon at the beach and our friend was feeling peckish.

Our friend proceeded to:

  1. spread a generous portion of butter (and vegemite) between two crackers
  2. squeeze the butter and vegemite between the holes in the crackers
  3. marvel at the emerging butter worms!

butter worms

Maybe it’s immature for grown-ups to still enjoy creating butter worms – but for me it was refreshing to see another grown-up get such joy out of such a simple treat. I also liked her descriptive expression.

We even showed our daughter Cleo how to make butter worms – and Cleo loved it!

The butter worm tradition will live on!

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Some soft, gentle, colourful and non-abrasive vacation reading for you


You’re probably on vacation now (as I am)   –  and you need some pampering with your reading – not hard abrasive business-related reading. How about something soft and gentle and colourful (and amusing)  – just like this ad for toilet paper? Isn’t it a classic?

Do you love vacations? – being in a different place – seeing different things!

Here’s something I saw on the street this morning – something that inspired this blog!

retro porsche

This lead to a “happy accident” that got me thinking (and blogging) about advertising and “selling” toilet tissue  – of all things.

Here’s how it happened.

executive rosche

The happy accident started off with a “dyslexic moment” ( I often mis-read words) where was replacing a toilet roll and mis-read it thinking it was specially designed by Porsche! It was actually tissue designed by Rosche.rosche

I blame the mistake on the Porsche that was still on my mind!

Then again the Rosche design does look very sleek and metallic and dramatic with the red and black!

The roll was “Executive” and I started thinking: what makes a roll “executive”?

And I started thinking about how advertisers market toilet paper to make it appeal to the target market and to  stand out from other brands.

I found some interesting ads.

What else are they selling beyond  the toilet paper?

You try first – then I’ll add my views.

Let’s get on a roll!

Example 1:

free vintage toilet paper ad download

Example 2:

soft-weve tp pink

The first ad sells being a good  and responsible mother or parent – ensuring the health and safety of the children.

The second ad – sells the colour, the style, the luxury.

Who would have thought toilet paper reflected your stylishness?

I love the how the dress reflects the colour and softness too. Very Betty Draper from Mad Men!

So next time you go to the bathroom – reflect on the artistry of the toilet tissue you are using – and the artistry of the advertising and how advertising can sell “anything” even toilet paper products!

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Are you a Friday night Facebooker?

Yes – some of us enjoy a Friday night in – it’s not boredom, it’s bliss to some.

If you prefer Friday nights far from the madding crowd – you are not alone – in fact there’s a song about spending Friday nights on social media rather than socialising in the pubs or clubs or at parties.

I love quiet Friday nights – especially after a big week:

– Time to think random thoughts we are too busy to think during the work to think

– Time to search for answers to random questions we think up. Time to find all sorts of interesting stuff on youtube!

For example, I searched “Friday night” and “Facebooking” and found lyrics – a parody to TGIF – Last Friday Night. Then I found the song on Youtube.

Here  are two snippets.


Laptop chargers in my bed

Notifications in my head

Sunlight all up in my room

Better tweet before I’m doomed

I smell like cats and clothes

I can’t wait to check my notes

Nothing better one can do

Reblog me, I’ll reblog you

2. Skyping everyone I know

Facebooking stalking friends of friends who I think are hot

Tweeting things that no one cares

Tumblr cat gifs everywhere

Here’s a link to the full lyrics:


When I was younger I’d love to be out on the town. Now –  I look forward to the freedom of a quiet Friday night and crashing out early.

People are different – it’s OK if you’d rather be reading a book or on Facebook rather than getting off your face!

My daughter likes to check out the stats  – the numbers, maps and flags of different countries of “our” blogs. She keeps pestering me for updates. (Warning; future nerd alert!)

on computer with Cleo

Hey look dad – we’re big in Bulgaria!

Big in Bulgaria

If you’re a Friday night Facebooker – you’ll probably get a chuckle out of the parody – here’s the link:


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The story behind NASA’s giant (dance) step – GANGNAM STYLE

After being “hooked” into watching a quirky NASA parody of Gangnam style – I was curious to find out the story behind the video.


Here’s my original post:

A powerful way to hook attention (NASA style)

The video seemed to have to co-operation of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and I was curious – why did NASA do this?

Apparently, it was the idea of interns at the JSC as a “video outreach project” to boost awareness of the work JSC does – and for the message to go out BEYOND the usual NASA space geeky fan audience (and that geeky space fan audience would include me).

Those creative interns wanted to do something more engaging that a standard educational and promotional video.  They were inspired by the most successful video sensation – Gangnam style.

One intern wrote the lyrics to the beat of Gangnam style. Another intern, Eric Sim, (who I guess most resembled PSY and who could sing and dance) performed the song. Other interns who were talented as camera people and editors put it all together – and released it a few days ago.

Even “real” astronauts and NASA scientists and staff got involved in the project.

So far the video has scored more than half a million views in just a few days.

Gangnam style has inspired hundreds of parodies and I’ve seen lots of them. This NASA version is exceptional for its production value and, for me, the surprising and creative combination of NASA and Gangnam style.

I have to watch it again to see all the NASA hardware – and mission control.

Now that’s the benefit of a creative approach.

For more details – the video project has scored lots of coverage in various media.

Through “researching” the NASA parody I was delighted to find a galaxy of wonderful geeky publications such as Geek News Central:

And here’s a pithy and with piece from CRAVE: I like this because it describes exactly how I felt. I was so “OVER” Gangnam style – but I was impressed with the creative pairing of NASA and Gangnam style. There also seems to be  lot of sincere fun and passion in the video.

Here’s what  Michelle Starr wrote in CRAVE…

Adorably, NASA has leapt onto the Gangnam parody train well after it has left the station, and done a seriously bang-up job.

Gangnam Style is officially over. We knew it was officially over quite some time ago, when we saw Psy on the cover of Woman’s Day. “Gangnam star’s wedding photos!” ran the tagline.

We’d like, therefore, to think of this parody by the NASA Johnson Space Center as a sort of swan song for the phenomenon: fantastically dorky, wonderfully science-y and a rocket load of fun.

The Johnson Space Centre is NASA’s centre for training, research and flight control, where NASA runs internships and programs for students, and the video was created to educate the public about what the centre does.

Highlights include an astronaut dancing awkwardly in a space suit — not because she’s a bad dancer, but because those things weren’t built for dancing — appearances by astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Mike Massimino and Clay Anderson; rocket launches; and scientists and researchers getting their groove on.

In an earlier post (before people were totally sick of Gangnam style) I wrote about what we could all learn from the video about hooking attention.

Lessons from Gangnam Style on how YOU can hook attention for your messages

So who is writing this?

Hi, I’m Tony Biancotti and I can help you harness your creativity and hook attention with lots of tips from everyday life for  boosting creativity and hooking attention in everyday situations.

I can also help you improve your presentations and business writing.

I can share with you practical and easy-to-apply tips I’ve gathered over many years working as a:

  • TV journalist
  • political speechwriter
  • lawyer
  • blogger
  • musician and performer
  • coach and trainer in persuasionpositive messagespresenting and better e-mail and business writing.

I’m also a very busy dad and husband juggling my work and travel with family life and our two wonderful kids – Orlando and Cleo.

You can contact me on    or on Linked In or Facebook. Tony is of course short for Anthony .
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How the TV show Mad Men can help you “sell” your message

If you need to spread your message and persuade people – then the TV show Mad Men can help you “sell” your message to  your audience.

I know “selling” can have a negative and pushy image – but instead of pushing “stuff” on people, think connecting what people need and want  and with what you can offer.

Go broader – think beyond your  physical “product”. What else are you selling? What other human needs and wants are you satisfying. Think Mad Men!

The show is about advertising in the early 1960s  and has so many valuable communication lessons.

This week I was helping some clients who work with the beauty and fashion industry “broaden” the appeal of their message.

They asked how to make their message more exciting because “after all, it’s just make-up”.

It was funny – it was as if I started channeling all these scenes from Mad Men – especially the episodes about Lipstick and the slide projector The Carousel. I wasn’t planning to talk about Mad Men – but as I am such a massive fan of the show, the it’s just make-up comment made me  “click” into remembering episodes I hadn’t seen for years.

“It’s not just make-up” I said “Think broader – what else you are selling beyond the physical product.”


With lipstick – you’re not just selling the physical product – your selling much more – individuality, the freedom to choose our own style, and as Mad Men pitched – your ability to “mark your man”.

Now with the slide projector – your not just selling a piece of equipment. You are selling memories and nostalgia.   Here are the beautiful lines from the Mad Men about how you should think about what else you are selling – the greater things we crave beyond the physical item – How does a slide projector translate into memories, nostalgia and love?

It’s delicate, but potent…
Teddy told me that in Greek, nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound.
It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone.
This device… isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine.
It goes backwards, forwards.
It takes us to a place where we ache to go again.
It’s not called the Wheel.
It’s called the Carousel.
It lets us travel the way a child travels.
Around and around and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.”  

Amazing script – and combined with the images and music it’s really moving. I strongly recommend you go to youtube and find the clip by searching for Mad Men Carousel.

Now, here’s another example – a real ad!

This is a real ad from around the Mad Men period   These days, we take for granted many items like cling wrap (or whatever the US equivalent was called)  – but at the time these inventions  were new and “fresh” and made life much easier.

Here’s an exercise for you.

Take a look at the ad and ask yourself  – what else are they selling besides the physical product – the cling wrap?

Write down a few points.


Let’s see how our notes  compare. No wonder they look so delighted in the ad!

To me  – they were also selling:

–       Freshness – the ability to keep food fresh

–       Money saved by keeping food fresher for  longer

–       Self esteem for wives who prided themselves on being good homemakers – consider in the context of the times

–       Approval from husband and friends and neighbours

Remember, it’s not just about the physical product!

Also, there’s an old adage – you’re not selling insurance – your selling peace of mind.

Next time you have to “sell” a message – ask yourself “what else are you selling”? And remember the examples of the Carousel and the Cling Wrap.

So who is writing this?

Hi, I’m Tony Biancotti and I can help you harness your creativity and hook attention with lots of tips from everyday life for  boosting creativity and hooking attention in everyday situations.

I can also help you improve your presentations and business writing, pitching and working with the media.

I can share with you practical and easy-to-apply tips I’ve gathered over many years working as a:

  • TV journalist
  • political speechwriter
  • lawyer
  • blogger
  • musician and performer
  • coach and trainer in persuasionpositive messagespresenting and better e-mail and business writing.

You can contact me on:

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What is qwerty tummy and Social Notworking? – find out here

If you love creative new words to describe things you can check out one of my favourite sites Word Spy. I have nothing to do with the site apart from being a big fan.


I love the wit – and in some cases  how the simple tweak of a word or even a letter can make new meanings.

Yes, I’m a self-confessed Word Nerd!

word nerd

Some cool social media new words or neologisms are:


Social Notworking – when you are spending so much time on Social networking sites that you are not working.


Querty tummy – when you get sick especially with a stomach virus from working on a germ-laden keyboard.

And on a different topic….

You know about transvestites who like dressing up – well there a new term for people who are not cowboys who like to dress up as cowboys – and they’re called transWESTites

I heard a new word yesterday from a friend who told me that her latest “thing” is to have a crafternoon –getting together with her girlfriends and drinking and eating and chatting and laughing while they did their different craft projects.

Great word!

Here’s a link to more about the crafternoon delight.

And here’s that link to Word Spy – you can search the particular categories that interest you.

So who is writing the tweetest thing?


If you like words and wordplay, pop culture and sweet diversions – I think we have common interests.

I’m a journalist and musician turned communication trainer and consultant who now gets paid to be a word nerd – helping people improve their writing and presenting.

I’m a massive fan of the communication styles of Obama, Steve Jobs and Bono from U2.

When I like something I tend to really “get into it” – so I’m also a massive fan of Star Wars and  Modern Family and retro.

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Why girls enjoy a good crafternoon

Just caught up with a dear friend in Sydney and she had me in stitches – telling me about one of her latest joys – a crafternoon.


Apparently, a flamboyant and creative musician used this title to describe an afternoon of craft. In this case my friend and a bunch of her girlfriends get together an enjoy each other’s company as they do their own craft projects.

They drink and eat and talk and laugh and do their craft. (I’ll resist a joke about what cheese they eat.)

I personally love the name crafternoon – because as you know I love creative words and expressions. This word is a blend – combining two words that fit well together – one blends into the next – crafternoon.


I see from an internet search that the expression has been used before – but today was the first time I’d heard it and  I think it’s very clever.

The expression is very Phil Dunphy from Modern Family – but as I recall Phil used to tease Claire about her interest in craft in making things like a comb sheath!

I’ve never been into craft. Probably the nearest thing was making model airplanes as a kid – but that was blokey war stuff – not craft.

Still, I appreciate the joy and relaxation and satisfaction other people get from craft.

My friend proudly showed me her beading. She also cracked me up with a story about the creativity of one of  the crafternoon members in “qualifying” to be part of  a group.

She said she’d come along and paint – and paint she did – her nails!


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How you can make sure you don’t twitter when intoxicated

Twitter and alcohol do not mix. Sure you may think you are hilarious sending off the tiddly tweet – but chances are, in the morning you’ll regret it.

You can save yourself the embarrassment of the intoxicated tweet – by installing a “safety catch” on twitter and other social media (like Facebook).

At certain times – like after 9 p.m. on a Friday night, you have to pass a sobriety test before being able to send social media messages.

Sobriety tests include writing the alphabet backwards and moving the cursor in a designated pattern.

This sobriety technology  has been around for a couple of years – yet I bet most people don’t use it.

Do you use this sort of device?

Would you consider using it?

What other sobriety tests could be used?

drunk twitter bird.001

I found this image on Google Images of what looks like a drunken twitter bird – but I can’t say for sure what it’s all about – either I’ve had too much to drink – or the website is in a foreign language that me no speakie!

With Twitter we have to  be under the 140 character limit – maybe we should also be under the alcohol limit!

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Why Phil Dunphy is brilliant at teaching – why there is method in his DAD-ness

How Phil Dunphy can help you teach others and help YOU remember things


Here’s why Phil Dunphy’s way of teaching others is brilliant and effective – and how you can benefit from his style!

Even if you don’t like the “cool dad” Phil Dunphy character from Modern Family – you can learn from his effective and memorable simplicity.

I know Phil is a “fictional character”  and I believe he is a brilliantly written character with a solid foundation of truth about how certain male minds work.


What inspired this post?

I’ve been trying to help my mother-in-law set up a printer and it reminded me of how Phil explains things in a “childlike” way. His “simple  song-rhyme memory device” works to help HIM remember – but it annoys the Pritchetts – Father-in-law Jay and wife Claire.

Phil’s simple rhyme is:

“The computer and the printer must  talk, talk talk –   Command P makes the picture  walk, walk, walk!”

Here is a link to a youtube clip about the printer

What YOU can learn from this:

What made me laugh is that I use the same words and a similar style in my corporate training and in teaching my 8-year-old son Orlando.

In my “serious and grown-up”  role as a Corporate trainer and consultant, I’m often called in to help highly successful senior executives with “private” sessions to help improve certain areas.

For example, I work with very talented people who have the “gift of the gab”. They have excelled in certain areas and have managed to “cover up” other challenges – such as spelling.

In the past senior people would often have assistants to act as “buffers” to correct spelling and fix up the executive writing. However, now many executives need to write e-mails (without the assistant filter) and many execs are self-conscious about their spelling.

I’ll often help execs improve their spelling and one of my simple memory devices (that I remember from school) is

“When two vowels go walking – the first one does the talking

This does not apply in all vowel combinations – but it does in these examples:



O and A – make the sound of the first letter – the name of the first letter – the long O.

The first vowel does the “talking”. The A helps the O make the O sound but you don’t pronounce the A!

When E and A go walking the E does the talking


“When two vowels go walking – the first one does the talking

You see  why I chuckled at the similarity to:

The computer and the printer must  talk, talk talk  –   Command P makes the picture  walk, walk, walk!”

Also, do YOU know the difference between DISCRETE and  DISCREET?

I also help execs remember (visually) how to spell certain words that sound the same but have different meanings.

For example: DISCRETE and DISCREET.

Once again, I use a simple and highly effective “child-like” memory device that has helped me remember and also helps these senior execs.

The technique:

Look at the EEs

In discrEtE – the Es are divided and separated  – as into two DISCRETE  categories.

In discrEEt – the 2 Es are getting together and whispering to each other – they are being DISCREET.

Let me assure you – even if you are shaking your head (Jay-style at this child-like simplicity) this technique WORKS! It’s visual – it’s memorable!

I hope some of you use this memory device to pass on the technique either to your work colleagues or to your kids.

Speaking of kids, I used a very similar Phil-rhyme to teach my son a valuable lesson a “man” must learn – how to use a screw diver and spanner.

We were making a model car and I taught him how to use a screw driver to loosen and tighten screws.

Son, remember: “Turn to the Left to Loosen.


And… to the right, right, right – makes it tight, tight, tight!”

That’s why I laughed – the simple song is very similar to:

Command P made the picture  walk,walk, walk!

My son loves Phil from Modern Family too – and he will always remember my Phil-style instructional song.

Plus – the best thing – he thinks I’m a cool dad!

I am a serious lawyer by training – and if you still do not accept my argument that Phil’s teaching style can be very effective – we may have to settle this IN COURT – the FOOD COURT! (another great Phil line!)

So who is writing this?

Hi, I’m Tony Biancotti  – a lawyer turned journalist turned communication trainer and consultant.

I’m a massive fan of Modern Family (as you can probably tell) and one of my strengths (I’m told) is being a “COOL DAD” and even a “COOL CORPORATE CONSULTANT”. Senior and serious execs tell me this fun style does work for them.

If  you want to learn important business communication lessons – in a fun and memorable way – I can help.

If you are more like non-nonsense Jay Prichett and don’t like the Phil style – I can do “straight and serious” too if that’s what you prefer.

I live in Brisbane, Australia and you can contact me on

If you enjoyed this Phil-inspired post – here’s another one about a “crunchy surprise”.


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