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One lesser known characteristic of Thomas Edison was his penchant for engineering dazzling public-relations stunts. In an attempt to convince the New York City council to allow its streets to be torn up for the laying of electrical cables,

Edison invited the entire group out to Menlo Park at dusk. He led them up a narrow staircase in the dark, and while they were fumbling their way and grumbling about the inconvenience, he suddenly clapped his hands. A flood of lights came on, illuminating a lavishly set dining hall complete with a sumptuous feast catered by New York’s premier restaurant, Delmonico’s.

It never hurts to add an element of show-biz to your presentation. More presentations are crippled by boredom than by dazzle. — From historian Paul Israel, “The Undiscovered World of Thomas Edison,” by Kathleen McAuliffe, Atlantic Monthly, December 1995, p. 93.

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