Dream Bigger With the New Book Bill Gates Calls His ‘Favorite of All Time’

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After reading Steven Pinker’s new book, Enlightenment Now, you might never complain again about a delayed flight or a long line at Costco. And if you do, you’ll feel bad about it.

Pinker, a Harvard psychologist and Pulitzer-prize winning finalist, has written a book that Bill Gates calls his “favorite book of all time.” In the 500-page book, Pinker tells “the greatest story seldom told.”  What is the story? In a sentence,

 

The world has made spectacular progress in every single measure of human well-being and almost no  one knows about it.

Pinker reminds us of the daily gifts we take for granted. For example:

“Newborns who will live more than eight decades, markets overflowing with food, clean water that appears with a flick of a finger, and waste that disappears with another, pills that erase a painful infection… critics of the powerful who are not jailed or shot, the world’s knowledge and culture available in a shirt pocket.”

The graph below shows the stunning progress that America and the developed world has made since the recorded calendar began in the first century. As Pinker notes, the history of civilization has been marked by extreme poverty among everyone except a few nobles. Massive wars that collectively killed millions were common, as was famine, starvation, and early deaths (most children never made it past their 5th birthday), and no access to the life-saving medicines, vaccines, and procedures that have only arrived in the last half century.  Around 1820, something changed. The ideals of the enlightenment—freedom of ideas—began to flourish. And then suddenly—BOOM—the world made “spectacular progress in every single measure of human well-being.”

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The Mental Bias That Will Hold You Back
So why don’t people know this story? Blame a mental bug we’re all born with—the availability bias. In 1971, Nobel prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman and his academic partner Amos Lewis Tversky discovered the bias. They defined it like this.

People estimate the probability of an event or the frequency of a kind of thing by the ease with which instances come to mind.

In other words, if you’re glued to the news and you stick to the echo-chamber on Facebook or among your friends and peers, your view of the world will be distorted by the problems and bad news you’ll hear over and over.  Our brains are wired in such a way that we look at the available information and extrapolate the future based on what we see today.

According to Pinker, “Every day the news is filled with stories about war, terrorism, crime, pollution, inequality, drug abuse, and oppression…news is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a journalist saying, ‘I’m reporting live from a country where a war has not broken out.’”

What does all this have to do with leadership? Bill Gates says you cannot move the world forward if you’re not motivated by the progress that is happening every day. It’s only by learning about what works that we can spread the progress. If you consume negative news, studies show you’ll become more glum, have a higher and distorted picture of risk, higher anxiety, lower mood levels, more hostility, and—very dangerous—fall into learned helplessness, which means you give up on bettering yourself. And remember, A great leader sees around the corner. You’ll be more successful if you recognize and manage the bias.

Great Leaders Have Perspective

Pinker advised us to maintain perspective. “Not every problem is a Crisis, Plague, Epidemic, or Existential Threat, and not every change is The of This, the Death of That, or the Dawn of a Post-Something Era…problems are inevitable; but problems are solvable,” Pinker writes.

The story of progress is truly “heroic, glorious, and uplifting.” If you need a lift, pick up Pinker’s book. It might change your life–it did for me and Bill Gates.

Carmine Gallo is a popular keynote speaker and bestselling author. Carmine’s new book, Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great, is available for pre-order (June, 2018 St. Martin’s Press)

New Research Finds That Your Customers Remember ‘Moments,’ Not Events

Looking back at a photo I posted to Facebook reminds me of a new area of research in the area of customer service. Your customers don’t recall every aspect of an experience–they remember moments instead.

On a trip to The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, I bumped into the hotel’s general manager. I casually mentioned that I was there to speak at an event and how impressed I was with the hotel’s service staff. He thanked me, asked my name, and ducked into a meeting.

Two hours later, I went back to my room. On the desk I found a bag and a handwritten note. Inside the bag, the GM had given me a gift of a package of rare salts sold in the hotel restaurant. The photo below is the picture I posted to Facebook and Instagram.

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According to Dan and Chip Heath in their book, The Power of Moments, “Research has found that in recalling an experience, we ignore most of what happened and focus instead on a few particular moments.” What are you doing to create wow moments for you guests or customers?

A popular local restaurant in my community sits in the middle of a winery and a stunning golf course. The Wente Vineyards winery has long reputation in the Livermore Valley, having started in 1883. Wente introduced chardonnay to the region and is associated with the California style of chardonnay that’s popular around the world.

The restaurant at Wente Vineyards is elegant and Chef Mike Ward excels at courses that make the most of Wente’s local garden, wines, and even its own cattle ranch. But the staff   (called ‘Ambassadors’) also excel at creating moments.

Recently, when Chef Mike heard that it was my wife’s birthday, he walked out of the kitchen with a large, exotic black truffle that he sources from Italy. He made a show of shaving the truffle onto her risotto entree. The dinner included fabulous wines and great food, but what do you think Vanessa chose to Facebook? The moment.

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Earlier in the week, a group of parents from a local school visited the same Wente restaurant. I know some of the parents and follow them on Facebook. I wasn’t at the dinner, so I don’t know what they ordered or anything else about their experience–but I saw a moment that stuck with them. The restaurant staff had a prepared a menu with a customized greeting. Again, a small gesture, but a great moment one of the parents chose to post on Facebook.

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Yes, they say make each moment count. But when it comes to customer service, some moments are remembered more than others.

Carmine Gallo is a keynote speaker and bestselling author. His new book, Five Stars, shows readers how to master the ancient of communication to thrive in the age of ideas (On Sale June, 2018, St. Martin’s Press)

 

Marc Benioff ‘s Master Class in Public Speaking

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Salesforce CEO and billionaire Marc Benioff opened his keynote at DreamForce 2017 by doing something very few presenters have the courage to do. He delivered the presentation as he walked among the audience. It’s a technique that Benioff has mastered over years of hosting the blockbuster conference/party in San Francisco.

More than 170,000 people are registered for DreamForce this year. It’s a massive conference that Benioff kicks off with a two-hour presentation where he introduces new ideas, features customers who are in the audience, and introduces other speakers.

The ability to walk around a massive conference hall while delivering a presentation requires 1). courage and 2). practice. It takes courage to walk out from behind a lectern, and to make eye contact with people who are standing right next to you. It takes practice to know your slides and message so thoroughly that you’re not tied to notes.

Marc Benioff is a storyteller and an engaging/energetic presenter. It’s worth watching one of his astonishing keynotes as a master class in public-speaking.

Carmine Gallo is a keynote speaker and author of the bestselling books “Talk Like TED” and “The Storyteller’s Secret.”

Richard Branson’s Most Valuable Pitch Tips (video interview)

Carmine_Branson_BeetMatRecently, I had the rare opportunity to sit down with Sir Richard Branson to talk about his new autobiography, Finding My Virginity. Branson and I talked about a wide range of topics we’re both passionate about:  storytelling, public-speaking, communication and the advice he gives to entrepreneurs after watching 25,000 pitches.
Here are 3 valuable communication tips I took away from our conversation which you can watch here.
1.) Great leaders are great storytellers. Branson says it’s nearly impossible to be successful today unless you can communicate an idea persuasively.
2). The best ideas can fit on a beer coaster. In a fun part of of the interview, I present Branson with an beer mat, a cocktail napkin and an envelope. He takes the items, looks into the camera and explains why he’s only interested in ideas that can fit on those items. The segment begins at 2 minutes and 45 seconds into our video.
3). Branson openly acknowledges his challenges with dyslexia, which was part of the reason he dropped out of school at the age of 16 (the condition was misunderstood when he was in high school). But Branson—ever the optimist—turned a potential hurdle into a benefit. He now calls it “a massive advantage” because it forced Virgin to communicate simply, endearing itself to consumers for 50 years.
At the end of our interview, I told Richard Branson that he is one of the most inspiring leaders of our time. He’s authentic. He praises employees. He’s devoted to improving the customer experience. He motivates people and he encourages us to dream bigger.
I hope you enjoy our conversation!
Carmine Gallo

 

3 Communication Tips From This Summer’s Nonfiction Bestsellers

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On any given week I read about 40% of the nonfiction books that make up the top 10 of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. From time to time, I like to share some of the insights that relate directly to your success in communication. Here are some tips from recent bestsellers:
Captivate: The Science of Succeeding With People
by Vanessa Van Edwards
“Whether we like to admit it or not, we decide if we like someone, if we trust someone, and if we want a relationship with someone within the first few seconds of meeting them.” Van Edwards recommends the following skills to improve the way you come across and to make a more favorable impression: 1). Use your hands when you talk, 2)Stand like a winner (Take up physical space on stage and 3). Engage with eye contact.
If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating
By Alan Alda
“Not being truly engaged with the people we’re trying to communicate with is the grit in the gears of daily life. It jams our relationships with others when people don’t ‘get it.’”
The actor Alan Alda is a student of communication. He helped to establish the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in New York. Among the key takeaways—the power of story. “Storytelling is amazing; it has the power to make people really aligned.” Alda interviewed some of the same researchers that I talked to for The Storyteller’s Secrets. Both books will help you understand and implement storytelling in your business.
The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World
By Scott Hartley
“Finding solutions to our greatest problems requires an understanding of human context as well as code; it requires both ethics and data, both deep thinking people and Deep Learning AI, both human and machine,” writes venture capitalist Scott Hartley. His book is a good reminder of what Steve Jobs taught us — the best products, solutions and communicators combine technology with liberal arts.
If you have any books that I should read and share with my readers, send us your thoughts. We love to hear from you!
Carmine Gallo is a popular keynote speaker and author of the international bestseller, The Storyteller’s Secret

A Rare Example of Too Much Data (That Works)

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June 6, 1944… D-Day. How big was the invasion? This graphic, courtesy of the BBC, shows the sheer magnitude of the allied forces that stormed the beaches of Normandy that day.

Normally, in presentations and graphic design, less is more. I prefer one statistic on a slide or one story. This is a rare example, however, of a slide where more is better.

An impressive slide that serves its purpose.

 

The Seed Investors Behind Airbnb Say Passion Means Everything

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Without passion, emotion and an unwavering belief in their ideas, the Airbnb founders would never have pioneered the sharing economy.

Recently, I had a wide-ranging conversation with Yahoo Mail creator and Y Combinator partner, Geoff Ralston.  The prestigious Silicon Valley startup accelerator has provided seed funding and training for over 1,460 startups including Airbnb, Dropbox, Reddit, and Stripe.

In this video you’ll learn why Ralston says passion plays a major role in their investment decisions.

According to Ralston:
“The reason I talk about emotion, passion, and obsessions, the reason it matters in the startup world, is simple. Startups are really hard. You will get punched in the nose. You will have investors say no or tell you that your idea is bad. You will have key employees walk away. You will fail to get a deal. You will make mistakes. You will make the wrong product or feature. To sustain and continue through the inevitable roller-coaster that is the startup adventure, you need emotion and passion. It is a pre-requisite that you care enough to get back up, dust yourself off, and keep on going.”
Carmine Gallo is a keynote speaker and bestselling author of eight books including The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers To Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On And Others Don’t. 

Logitech Spotlight Reimagines The Art of Presentations

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It’s been eight years since Logitech introduced a wireless remote to advance presentation slides. What could possibly change in eight years? Plenty. In fact, the new Spotlight by Logitech will transform your presentations, offering a powerful and personal tool that will help you stand out in business and in your career.

Sixty percent of business professionals say they present regularly. But while 1 billion presentations are given every year, only 2 million presentation remotes are sold annually. This tells us that many people who should be using remotes to deliver their presentations are going along without one.

After getting an early opportunity to test Spotlight by Logitech, I can tell you that it’s a game-changing tool to deliver presentations confidently and fearlessly.

You see, it’s not just a pointer or a clicker. For example, say goodbye to the red laser-pointer. Instead, Spotlight literally shines a spotlight on the portion of the slide you want to highlight. If an image is small, no problem, just magnify it and make it larger – again, all with the remote in the palm of your hand.

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If you’re playing videos and the volume is too low or too high, again, it’s no problem. Spotlight has gesture control and allows you to adjust the volume without touching your computer. The remote also gives you on-screen cursor control to play and pause videos. There’s no need to break your flow or go anywhere near a mouse or laptop.

I spent much of last week on tour with Logitech. We visited three cities—San Francisco, New York and Boston—and met with dozens of technology reporters and bloggers. They were impressed. According to ZDNET, Spotlight is “an elegant tool for professional presenters.” You can read the entire review here.

 

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Spotlight represents a new standard in presentation control. It’s elegant and comfortable. Every feature is made to empower confident, fearless presenting. Whether you prefer PowerPoint, Prezi or Apple Keynote, Spotlight will transform the way you present. Don’t sell your ideas without one.

For anyone who presents as part of their job – to pitch ideas, engage teams, or inspire employees and customers—the Spotlight wireless presentation remote is an elegant and useful tool that will take your presentation to the next level.

Carmine Gallo is a popular keynote speaker, communication advisor and bestselling author of eight books including The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, Talk Like TED and The Storyteller’s Secret

Under Armour CEO Tells Powerful Personal Stories To Rock Presentations

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“Every great brand is like a great story. Every great story is made up of chapters in a book,” Kevin Plank told an audience in Las Vegas recently. The billionaire chairman and CEO of sports retailer, Under Armour, knows the storyteller’s secret, and he uses the power of story to wow his audiences.

Beginning at the 4-minute mark in Plank’s CES presentation, he shared the story of how Under Armour came to be and how his personal story reflects the brands’ promise today.

Here are 3 specific tips you can (and should) adopt from Kevin Plank’s presentation style.

Use specific, vivid details to transport your audience

“All companies begin as an idea. My idea was simple. I was an athlete. I was a college football player. I wasn’t the biggest and I wasn’t the fastest, but I had a huge passion; a passion to be on that team. I wanted to run out of that tunnel. I wanted to be a part of it, a part of something bigger,” Plank began. That passion put him on the field the University of Maryland. He vividely remembers practicing in the summer of 1995.

“It was hot on the east coast. You know what that humidity feels like. That heavy, heavy deep heat. That year, nine of my teammates had been treated for dehydration. Wearing heavy, sweat-soaked, drenched, cotton T-shirts. Why hasn’t anyone made a better alternative to that wet, cotton T-shirt? I thought.”

“That original insight was simple and pure,” Plank continued. “That’s where my passion met with my curiosity and the entrepreneurial spirit took over: to build something bigger, a better T-shirt. One that would keep athletes dry and light.” Plank didn’t know anything about apparel, so he hopped in his 1992 Ford Explorer and drove north to New York City’s garment district to learn more. The company, he said, was started “brick by brick,” literally. “It began on a dining room table in the basement of a brick rowhouse owned by grandmother in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.”

 I don’t know what it’s like to play football for a Division I college, but I know what the east coast heat feels like in summer, I can picture a young man with a dream driving north in his 1995 Ford Explorer, or working at the dining room table in his grandmother’s brick rowhouse.

Small details add authenticity to personal stories, transporting the audience to another place and time.

Favor pictures over words

While Plank delivers the personal story behind the founding of Under Armour, every slide is a photo. There are no words, text or bullet points. The slides show Plank playing football at several stages in his life. They show his grandmother’s brick rowhouse. They show photos of sweat-drenched players on the field during his playing days at Maryland.

Text gets in the way of a personal story unless, of course, the text is key component of the story. Otherwise, favor pictures over words.

Under Armour’s CEO uses photos to transport his audience. You should do the same. The more personal the photos, the better.

Connect the struggle with the brand’s values

Plank doesn’t end the story by simply concluded that he developed a better way for athletes to stay dry. He infuses the brand narrative with purpose and meaning. “We don’t just make products, we solve problems,” Plank says. “Our mission is to make all athletes better, through passion, design, and the relentless pursuit of innovation…“We’re not just a logo slapped on a shirt or a shoe. Brand is a culture and that culture has the power to make you feel invincible.”

Wow. Who doesn’t want to feel invincible?

In seven minutes Plank brought us on a journey, from sweat-drenched playing fields to the dining room table in the basement of a brick rowhouse, and from $17,000 in revenue in his first year to a nearly $5 billion company today. Kevin Plank makes you feel unstoppable.

A great presentation has the ability to make people feel differently about you and your brand. And no technique makes someone feel as deeply as a strong personal story.

Carmine Gallo is a keynote speaker , communication advisor and bestselling author of “Talk Like TED” and The Storyteller’s Secret

Happy Birthday Pope Francis, Master of Metaphor

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In The Storyteller’s Secret I devote an entire chapter to one of the great spiritual leaders of the world, Pope Francis, who turns 80 today. Francis learned his communication skills as a Jesuit seminarian and continues to deliver speeches that rely on the building blocks of narrative to capture attention: metaphor.

Whether he’s comparing greed to “the dung of the devil” or the church as a “field hospital” that must go into the streets to find the spiritually “wounded,” Francis’ speeches are loaded with vivid imagery to make the abstract tangible.

In some speeches Francis will use more than one metaphor in the same sentence:

“For Mother Teresa, mercy was the salt which gave flavor to her work, it was the light which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.” People who have done evil and know it, live “with a constant itch, with hives that don’t leave them in peace,” he once said. Vanity is “like an osteoporosis of the soul: the bones seem good from the outside, but on the inside they are all ruined.” Some people, argue Francis, are afflicted with “Spiritual Alzheimer’s.”

In April, 2016, Francis released his first major paper on marriage and the family. “Amoris Laetitia” is beautifully written.  Once again, Francis relies on metaphor to communicate the topic. Quoting the psalms, children are “like olive shoots,” full of energy and vitality. Letting them go is like “flying a kite.” When the kite begins to waver, you don’t pull the strings tighter. Instead you give it some slack.

An increasing body of evidence is emerging in the neuroscience literature to support the power of storytelling; specifically, the effectiveness of using analogies to bring abstract concepts to life. Stories work because they activate many parts of our brain. Metaphor and analogies are critical devices to make it happen. Pope Francis is a master of the technique and his speeches are well worth studying.

Carmine Gallo is a popular keynote speaker, best-selling author, and communication advisor for the world’s most admired brands