Richard Mulholland
    • Richard kicked off his career as a rock n roll roadie, operating lights for bands such as Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. From there he started SA's largest presentation firm, Missing Link and co-founded 21Tanks, SA's first perspective lab.

      Richard is a highly regarded speaker. When not addressing many of South Africa's top corporations, he guest lectures on courses for The Cape Graduate School of Business (GSB), and the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS).

      As well as blogging on, Richard is a columnist for Longevity and Destiny Man magazines.

      He has a tattoo of your Mum on his left bum cheek...!

    • Rich started and grew Missing Link to be the largest Presentation firm in South Africa. Never one to be satisfied with stagnation, Rich has made use of his advanced years to accomplish a fair amount. He bred again, tattooed his back, owns two houses, and now rides a Vespa (after failing his learner’s…). They grow up so fast… He also co-founded our sister company – 21Tanks!
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Every time you give an ovation, god kills a puppy (act accordingly)

On the 13th September 2001 I was in Tenerife on holiday, the past two days had been spent glued to the TV and the mood was obviously pretty low. That night I went to a Flamenco show in Playa de las Americas. The show lasted three hours and built and built as it went. As the crescendo came, the full cast was on stage, the music was building, the lights were flashing, hearts were thumping and all at once, with one epic cymbal smash there was silence…

…for a second.

One moment I was glued to my chair, the next moment I was on my feet cheering with 500 other people – to this day I have no idea how I got there, but I know that staying seated would have been an impossibility. That, to quote A Skylit Drive, is a fucking ovation!

It’s a well known rumour that De Beers are sitting on a horde of diamonds that they’ll never release to the public, if they did, the value of those diamonds would be greatly reduced. It’s turning supply and demand on its head – they’re using demand and supply. I think we should apply the same logic to giving standing ovations.

I was privileged enough to attend the awesome TED Global conference in Oxford this week, the TED audience is amazing, they watch presentations the same way other people watch opera or ballet – and they’re not afraid to show their appreciation. There was, on average 3 standing ovations p/day. Now, I guess that could tell you something about the quality of the speaker, and I have no doubt that it does, however I have two points on this.

I read once that every person should give only two standing ovations in their lifetime. Now in my mind that’s a bit extreme, however I do think that holding back a little would vastly increase the value of it when it’s given.

Standing ovations have become far too commonplace. What we need are ovations where the audience members all punch and kick one another.” – George Carlin

When it comes to ovations, less is more.

The second and more relevant point is what disturbed me most about the majority of TED ovations (or slowvations as I’ve dubbed them). Often a speaker would finish to loud applause, a few seconds later a few people would stand, a few seconds later a few more, then you’d find yourself standing up – simply because you didn’t want to be that guy.


To me an ovation should be a deeply personal and brave show of appreciation. It’s okay if only one person gives it – it means that that one person was touched on a deeper level – that’s awesome, that means the speaker spoke to him.

As I said, I think that the two-ovation rule is a little extreme, but try instead the two-second rule – if you’re not on your feet two-seconds after the event has concluded, have the courage to be that last man sitting. See your ovation as a personally selected gift, and give it on your terms.

That will make the receiving of it a lot more meaningful…!

July 16, 2010 at 3:00 pm | 310 comments

310 Responses to “Every time you give an ovation, god kills a puppy (act accordingly)”

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