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

Passion is Everything: My Interview with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

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“Take your presentations to the next level with Carmine as your coach.” – Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks

I was grateful to receive that endorsement from Howard Schultz for one of my books on leadership and communication. Schultz recently announced that he would step down as CEO of Starbucks. Needless to say, Schultz has reinvented the coffee culture in America by introducing Italian-style cappuccinos and lattes to the U.S market.

When I interviewed Schultz I learned a valuable lesson about inspiration and leadership, a lesson that has had a profound influence on my career, writing and speaking. And that lesson is this:

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a common purpose around a collective passion, anything is possible.”

In my first conversation with Schultz I was astonished that he rarely mentioned the word coffee. I was the first to bring it up.

“We’re not in the coffee business. It is what we sell as a product, but it’s not what we stand for,” he explained.

Starbucks is NOT in the coffee business, which is why it’s successful. You see, Schultz loves coffee, but he’s passionate about the people, the baristas who make the Starbucks experience what it is. Schultz’s vision was much bigger than to make a better cup of coffee. His moonshot was to create an experience; a third place between work and home. He wanted to build a company that treats people with dignity and respect. Those happy employees would, in turn, provide a level of customer service that would be seen as a gold standard in the industry.

Inspiring leaders like Howard Schultz are not afraid to share their passion. Passion is everything. A leader, manager or entrepreneur cannot inspire without it. Dig deep to identify your core value, the area where you want to make a ‘dent in the universe,’ as Steve Jobs once said. And ask yourself a question that Howard Schultz says is the key to success: What business am I really in? 

Carmine Gallo is a popular keynote speaker and communication advisor. Howard Schultz is one of more than 35 business leaders featured in Carmine’s bestselling new book, The Storyteller’s Secret: Why Some Ideas Catch On And Others Don’t. 

How Pampers Draws Massive Attention With This Tiny Ad

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Congratulations to Pampers for designing an eye catching ad for a good cause, World Prematurity Day. The ad ran in major newspapers across the U.S. It was effective for several reasons:

1). It makes clever use of white space. The ad shows the actual size of a diaper created for premature babies. By placing the ad in the middle of the page and leaving most of the rest blank, it focuses your eyes on the impossibly small image (the asterisk clarifies that it really is the actual size of a diaper).

2). There is very little text. A short paragraph at the bottom explains why the diaper was created and why the ad is running on November 17th, World Prematurity Day.

3). By positioning the page in newspapers like the New York Times which are heavy in text, the ad stands out even more.

Less clutter draws more attention to your product or idea.

Professional designers are not afraid of white space. In fact, they embrace it and use it creatively to catch your attention. Business professionals might want to take a lesson from the Pampers ad the next time they create a PowerPoint, write an email, or suggest design ideas. Reduce the ‘noise’ and grab more attention.

Carmine Gallo is a popular keynote speaker and communication advisor. His new book, The Storyteller’s Secret, explains why some ideas catch on and others don’t (St. Martin’s Press). 

How Hall-of-Famer Steve Young Went From 8th String To Super Bowl MVP

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It was a pleasure to swap stories and leadership philosophies with former 49ers quarterback and hall-of-famer Steve Young. I hope he enjoys “The Storyteller’s Secret” as much I loved his new autobiography, QB: My Life Behind The Spiral.

In this video interview for Forbes.com, we talk about overcoming adversity, how leaders take responsibility for their actions, earning your pay, and how Young went from eighth string quarterback at BYU to the highest paid athlete in professional sports.

When Young was playing eighth string, he didn’t suit up for games. He was lucky to get a ticket to sit in the stands. He called his dad and said, “I’m done. I’m quitting. I’m coming home.”

“You can certainly quit,” Steve Young’s dad said. “But you can’t come home. I’m not living with a quitter.”

Young stayed at BYU and and kept pushing day after day after day. He was the first to show up for practice and the last to leave. He threw 10,000 practice spirals in the off-season. He was determined to outwork everyone else.

“The difference between average and great is in the work ethic,” Steve Young told me. “If you want to be good at something, it takes practice, practice, and more practice.”

When Young got his chance he was ready. He set records at BYU and is enshrined in the College Football of Fame. He went on to sign a $40 million contract with an expansion league before heading to the 49ers where he would lead them to two Super Bowl victories and claim his place in the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame.

Young says character and conviction are everything. He believes in living a positive example both on the field and in private. Today he runs a private equity firm in Palo Alto, California, where my wife and I see him from time to time attending his daughters’ gymnastics events. Whenever I see him I think to myself, “He played the game when character mattered.”

Carmine Gallo is a popular keynote speaker and internationally bestselling author of eight books including “Talk Like TED” and “The Storyteller’s Secret: Why Some Ideas Catch On And Others Don’t.” 

 

 

The Day Tony Robbins Discovered His Gift for Public-Speaking

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A high-school English teacher recognized that Tony Robbins had a skill the student didn’t recognize in himself. Robbins had the gift of moving people with his words. The teacher encouraged Robbins to joins the high school debate team and Robbins’ life—and the lives of millions of his fans—was completely transformed.

Robbins, the world-famous life coach and speaker, recently told me, “I realized public-speaking was a skill and a gift, and that the skill and the gift combined could do some beautiful things. I’ve now been practicing it for 39 years.”

Robbins is quick to point out that gifts must be nurtured, refined and developed, and that’s exactly what he did with his public-speaking skills. At the age of 17, Robbins went to work for personal development coach and speaker, Jim Rohn. Robbins met a another speaker who was clearly resting on his laurels, a person who gave three speeches a month. “If he does three a month, I’ll find a way to book myself for three speeches a day. I’ll talk to the groups nobody wants to talk to” Robbins committed to himself. “People are rewarded in public for what they’ve practiced in private obsessively, intensely, and relentlessly.

According to Tony Robbins, public-speaking skills can be mastered if you’re willing to put in the time and energy.

“You can either drag it out forever and never get good at it, or are you can compress time and concentrate your power,” says Robbins.

Today Tony Robbins is a recognized authority on leadership psychology. He is on the road 200 days a year, speaking to more than 200,000 people and coaching the likes of Bill Clinton, Serena Williams, Marc Benioff and Leonardo DiCaprio, among many other notable leaders in business and entertainment. And while it’s a rare individual who will achieve Robbins’ level of influence, all leaders can learn an important lesson from his life. It’s a theme I’ve reinforced time and again: Leaders cannot inspire unless they’re inspired themselves. Robbins is convinced he’s put on earth to help others live their best lives. He’s a great communicator because he’s on a mission and he’s put in the work to make himself great.

Carmine Gallo is a popular keynote speaker, communication advisor and bestselling author. Tony Robbins is one of the entrepreneurs and leaders who Carmine features in his new book, “The Storyteller’s Secret.”

Joel Osteen’s Secret To Public Speaking

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On Sundays pastor Joel Osteen does something that would give most people a severe case of anxiety. He speaks to 40,000 people who attend services at Lakewood Church in Houston and to millions of others viewing on television in more than 100 countries.

Osteen is the rare individual who sells out stadiums, and he does so without The Rolling Stones or Taylor Swift sharing the stage.

Most observers might assume Osteen was always comfortable with public-speaking. The truth is quite the opposite. In fact, Osteen spent 17 years behind the scenes, working the camera for his father, the late preacher John Osteen. Joel did not see himself as a speaker, he did not feel as though he had the gift to captivate audiences, and he was very nervous about taking the stage. Osteen once told me he got nervous simply reading the church announcements!

“Carmine, when I began preaching I was nervous and intimidated. I’m naturally quiet and reserved. I was bombarded by negative thoughts,” he said.

Osteen made the transformation from shy cameraman to electrifying speaker when he reframed his internal narrative. Osteen admits that his negative self-talk got the better of him. He would repeat these phrases to himself:

You can’t do this, Joel.

You’re too young.

You don’t have the experience.

Nobody is going to come.

It took Osteen at least a year to build up his confidence. How? Joel Osteen hit the ‘delete button’ on negative self-talk, replacing words of defeat with words of victory.

“If I had let those negative thoughts play over and over in my mind, they would have contaminated my confidence, contaminated my self-esteem, and contaminated by future,” Osteen writes in his new bestselling book, Think Better Live Better.

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Nearly every inspiring leader I’ve met has dealt with periods of doubt. They’ve faced doubt about their leadership qualifications, doubt about their public-speaking ability, doubt about their ability to make an impact. Osteen did the right thing. He reframed his internal narrative, changing the dialogue in his head. Words are like seeds, says Osteen. Whatever you say will take root. Make sure the roots you’re planting are strong, empowering, and inspiring.

Joel Osteen is one of the leaders Carmine Gallo features in his new bestselling book, The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers To Business Legends Why Some Ideas Catch On And Others Don’t (St. Martin’s Press, 2016). 

Steve Jobs and Johnny Cash Taught This Tech Leader to Tell Better Stories

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“Johnny Cash and Steve Jobs were master storytellers,” Cameron Craig told me during a visit to Polycom’s headquarters in San Jose, California. Craig should know. He’s worked for both men in black and today transfers the lessons he learned to his role as director of global communications for the video conferencing company.

Craig was a tour publicist for country legend Johnny Cash and also worked for Steve Jobs beginning in 1997, watching and learning for the next ten years as Jobs led one of the greatest corporate turnarounds in history. Both Cash and Jobs were performers and gifted communicators in their respective fields. Craig credits both bosses for influencing his communication skills and teaching him to master the art of story.

Johnny Cash and Steve Jobs were master storytellers

As storytellers, Cash and Jobs featured heroes and characters in their narratives. “For Johnny Cash, the hero of his songs was the underdog, the prisoner in San Quentin, the misunderstood youth, the Native-American. He gave the underdog a voice. Steve Jobs did the same thing for another underdog, the ‘mere mortal,’ the person who just wanted to get something done, but the technology was too complicated.”

Craig’s reference to ‘mere mortal’ refers to a line Steve Jobs often repeated. Jobs once told a reporter for The New York Times, “As technology becomes more complex, Apple’s core strength of knowing how to make very sophisticated technology comprehensible to mere mortals is in ever greater demand.” In the Apple narrative complexity was the villain and mere mortals were the underdogs.

Watching his former bosses connect through narrative gave Craig an understanding for the power of storytelling to establish a deep and loyal connection with an audience (music fans or product customers). “You’ve got to tell great, authentic and compelling stories to draw people in,” Craig says.

Steve Jobs and Johnny Cash paid obsessive attention to storytelling to make heartfelt connections with their audiences.

In this second week at Polycom, Craig saw Jeff Rodman, the company’s co-founder, speaking to a group of children at a ‘bring your kids to work’ day. “He had them captivated and I wondered, what is he saying to those kids that’s so interesting?” Rodman told the kids a story about the day he found a 95-cent book at RadioShack, tinkered with an idea for a compact audio speaker, and turned the idea into a $2 billion company with more than 400,000 customers.

The kids—and Craig—were glued to every word. “You have to tell that story a broader audience than eight-year-olds,” Craig suggested. They shared the story publicly and it was picked up by the Harvard Business Review with the title, How I Built a $2B Company by Thinking Small.

According to Craig, “If you search deep enough, we all have these stories inside us.” Craig believes in looking for the hook, the backstory behind a business, service, or invention. Once you discover it, you’ll likely find an audience that wants to hear it.

 

Carmine Gallo is a keynote speaker and author of The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers To Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On And Others Don’t.