Beyond the Book: Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo


Everyone has an idea worth sharing.


If you’re in sales leadership – sharing ideas, information and direction is basically what you do for a living, right?

That is why I was so excited to read Carmine Gallo’s WSJ Best Seller, Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds.

Even if we’re not formally “on stage” – we are routinely in situations that require strong communication of an idea or message:

  • Customer sales calls
  • Coaching conversations
  • POA meetings
  • Conference calls
  • Sales training events

Talk Like TED delivers amazing insights, gleaned from analysis of the most viewed TED Talks of all time, that are as applicable in these situations as they are on the big stage.

Rather than provide a play-by-play review of Talk Like TED (…there have been many of those already written, all better than I could ever do), I’ll share what I’m going to change after having read thUnknowne book.  Taking things “BEYOND THE BOOK.”

(See what I did there? :))

After all, that’s the goal of investing time in reading great

From there, you can decide if any of the information is useful for you or if you’d like to read it for yourself!


Gallo’s research is broken down into 3 main sections in the book and powerfully demonstrates that effective presentations are…

I.  EMOTIONAL: They touch my heart

The 3 secrets revealed in this section of the book revolve around the premise that ideas have real impact when delivered at an emotional level using expert passion, stories and a conversational tone.

Sound like the last conference call you were on?


MY CHANGE: Use more stories. Gallo dissects numerous TED Talks where the presenters used 3 kinds of stories: personal stories, stories about other people and stories about brands that captured the audience at a truly emotional level.

COOL INSIGHT: Researchers have discovered that hearing stories activates language, sensory, visual and motor areas of the brain and can create a “sync-up” or “brain-to-brain coupling” between the speaker and listener.

That’s how ideas spread.

EXAMPLE: Check out this TED Talk by Bryan Stevenson who spent 65% of his 18 minutes telling stories.

II.  NOVEL: They teach me something new

The 3 secrets revealed in this section of the book suggest that ideas have real impact when they teach the audience something new, deliver a jaw-dropping moment and are lightened with humor.

MY CHANGE: Look for and deliver jaw-dropping moments.  OK, that might sound a little over zealous for a sales guy, but opportunities exist to “wow” any audience. Examples from book show that the best presentations contain some kind “emotionally charged event” that the audience remembers long after the interaction is over.

COOL INSIGHT: Molecular scientist John Medina is quoted in the book as saying that “emotionally charged events persist longer in our memories and are recalled with greater accuracy than neutral memories.”

Sounds like the primary goal of all we do in communicating ideas!

EXAMPLE: Check out this TED Talk by Bill Gates from 2009 whose use of an emotionally charged event – releasing “a swarm” of mosquitos – had incredible power.

III.  MEMORABLE: They present content in ways that I’ll never forget

The last 3 secrets shared in the book include data on the ideal length of presentations, taking a multi-sensory approach and the power of authenticity.

MY CHANGE: Always take a multi-sensory approach. It’s so easy to pull a bunch of slides together with data and bullet points and assume that’s enough to communicate an idea – but Gallo’s analysis suggests it’s not. Pictures, videos, props, demonstrations, text – and mixtures of them all – is what gains attention and has power.

COOL INSIGHT: Dr. Richard Mayer, professor of psychology at UC Santa Barbara, shares research insight in the book suggesting that students exposed to multisensory experiences ALWAYS (not sometimes…) have better recall of information than those who only read or hear it.

Finding ways to have an audience hear, see, smell, touch, move is a MUST if you want your idea to stick.

EXAMPLE: Check out this TED Talk by Michael Pritchard, which has been viewed over 3 million times, who uses a masterful multisensory approach to communicate his message.


Talk Like TED was a great read and just filled with highly actionable ideas – the mark of a great book for me.  I recommend it highly and you can grab a copy just about anywhere…I snagged mine off Amazon.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so leave a comment here.

Or if you’ve already read the book, what did you think?

Now…go spread your ideas.  (And if you liked this post – please spread the word by sharing it!)


5 easy ways for sales leaders to make e-mail less boring

Photo credit - New Old Stock

We all have the tools to make e-mail less boring


There is a ton of digital noise out there today and the e-mail messages we send as leaders run the risk of being lost in the shuffle.  So what can we do to increase the chances that our memo masterpieces don’t end up at the bottom of an overflowing inbox?  How can we avoid the dreaded left-swipe and delete?

Like most things in life there are no simple, universally applicable answers, but here are 5 strategies to energize your e-mail messages to make them more impactful:

  1. Consider the platform: Just like the couch that looks great in the store but ends up looking terrible in your living room, an e-mail message can tank if it’s not written with at least some consideration for where it will be opened and read.  53% of e-mail messages are now opened on a mobile device, according to statistics compiled by the site e-mail Monday.  A single paragraph of text might be OK if opened up in Outlook but it’s going to tick off the folks reading on their iPhone as they scroll down 15 times to read the whole thing.  Ultimately, you know how your team tends to attack e-mail…adjust your message construction accordingly.  And a side note:  a single paragraph of plain text in an e-mail is never a good idea. J


  1. Don’t sleep on the subject line: When someone opens up their inbox to 23 new messages, the subject lines are all that exist in view to invite the reader to open up and learn more.  Yes, I know…you’re the boss so the team has to open it.  But let’s try to think like marketers here and create a situation in which they WANT to open the e-mail.  Boring subject lines create corporate camouflage which blends your important message into the 22 other messages in an inbox.   Try to be fun, playful and think of what might intrigue someone enough to open it up.   You certainly need to use your own style and abide by company rules and regulations (if applicable) but you DO control what your message looks like.  Own it!


  1. Use more visuals: If a picture is worth 1000 words, why don’t we use them more often in our e-mail messages?  Most of our friends in social media marketing would be quick to highlight how much more engagement is gained by using pictures and video in posting efforts – so we should tap into this.  Add a picture, use bullet points, change the color/size/boldness of text or use a link out to external content.  Your team will notice and thank you.


  1. Avoid jargon: This isn’t just a suggestion for e-mail but for daily communication with our teams overall.  If your e-mail is filled with corporate jargon and buzz words, people are going to tune out.  Please, slash the “synergy” and out with “optimization.”  Just be a human being and use your own voice.  You can still be professional and polished without sounding like a stuffed suit.  People follow other people, so be one.


  1. Plan your publishing: No one likes to sit in traffic every day, especially sales people.  Similarly, you don’t want your messages to get caught up in communication traffic and become the victim of inbox road rage with a quick skim, skip or delete.  Pay attention to the rhythm of communication at your company.  If most messages are blasting out first thing in the morning, send yours in the afternoon.  Be thoughtful about when your messages reach your team.  Use the Delay Delivery option in Outlook to schedule your e-mail to send at just the right time.  Change up your office time for e-mail.  Timing is everything.


Leave me a comment sharing some ways that you’ve energized e-mail messages for your team and maybe suggest an area that might be worth me exploring more deeply in a future post.  I appreciate it!

Take care,


Indispensable: 3 game changing ideas for me from Seth Godin’s Linchpin

I just finished reading Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin.  While I’ve been following Seth’s blog for a while, and have heard him interviewed several times, this was the first of his many books that I have read.  It was awesome and really challenged the way I look at my career, my job and my work.  There are a ton of great reviews out there, so instead of creating another; here are the 3 main ideas that I took away from reading Linchpin and how I hope to do something with them:

  1. Work as Art: Until reading Linchpin, you can count me among the people who thought of art as paintings, poetry and music.  Godin challenges this idea and contends that an artist is “someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity and boldness to challenge the status quo.”  In this way, he suggests that all of us have the ability to create art with our work and should share it generously with others.  This concept has really challenged me to view my work each day as art.  Rather than accept the plodding “is what it is” mentality that drives some much of the corporate/business world, how can I push the envelope, do something different, create something new and make a difference?  I guess I’m an artist after all.Art


  1. Map Makers versus Manual Readers: There is a lot of discussion in the book about how the world is changing (and has already changed) following the Industrial Revolution.  Godin talks about how a premium was once placed on inexpensive, obedient and fast workers for the assembly line – no thought required, just read the manual and do your work.  While this mentality has left the factory and followed us into the corporate world, what is required to thrive today is the opposite:  the ability to be a map maker…not a manual reader.  As I examined my own career to date, I realized just how often I have been a manual reader.  Happy to do the job as directed, follow the script and chug on down the assembly line.  I’m going to make every effort to break free from this hamster wheel and start making maps in even the smallest areas of my work life.  Folks that do this become the linchpins of their organizations.  That’s my goal.


  1. The Daemon and the Resistance: There is an incredible description in the book about the battle that rages in our brain between our great ideas, or genius (daemon,) and the fear of putting ourselves out there (the resistance.)   Godin says that the resistance “pushes relentlessly for you to fit in.”  This is something I feel all the time and has historically held me back from veering too far from the script at work.  What if people don’t like it?  What if someone doesn’t agree with me?  What if they laugh?  Reading this book raised my awareness for all the ways I do this.  My goal is to embrace the daemon and fight against the resistance to pursue the goal of making art at work, even if it means flopping with regularity (as it most certainly will.)


Not every book I read has an impact right away on how I view my day-to-day life and work, but Linchpin did.  The message is powerful and something I intend to take to my efforts at work each day as well my time here on this blog.  For a linchpin, business most certainly doesn’t have to be boring.


Read Linchpin.



My-Way Hypnosis: 5 every day leadership activities that might be putting your team to sleep

I remember taking Driver’s Ed back in high school and learning about Highway Hypnosis.  This is said to occur when the driver of a vehicle zones out after a long period of time driving on a stretch of highway that is uninterrupted by stimuli to engage with (no traffic lights, crossings, commercial areas, etc.)  The driver can often go for many miles, driving the car normally, without remembering anything about the distance they just traveled.  It’s happen to me more times than I care to remember.

This same phenomenon can happen in the workplace, too.  Let’s call it My-Way Hypnosis.  This happens when the daily activities at work become like that long stretch of highway: standardized, predictable and just plain boring.  The team shows up, clicks the things, does the stuff and zones out.  Maybe you’ve been in this situation before or are in it right now.

Untitled design-2

Is this the road your team is on?

So, what’s the implication for us as leaders?  Well, we build the road.  It’s the My-Way Highway.  Every day, we pave that road with each small choice we make.  We always dwell on the big choices, but it’s the small ones that gel and connect to create an experience.   We can slowly build a long, straight and boring path or blaze a trail that shifts, changes and engages.  There really is a choice.

Here are 5 activities from an average, daily routine which provide us a choice to either create an engaging or boring road for our teams to travel on:

  1. E-mail: According to Radicati’s E-mail Statistics Report, business professionals can receive more than 80 e-mail messages per day on average.  Yikes. Take a look at the last 10 e-mail messages you have sent to your team.  Anything stopping folks in their tracks or are they flying on by?

  2. Meetings: The word alone causes drowsiness, especially with sales people.  Think of your last few meetings.  Were they the same old slide and grind sessions or did you create an experience that people will remember?

  3. Conference Calls: Especially with virtual teams, these gems are a regular part of the communication mix.  Consider the last conference call you led.  What was the energy like?  How was the participation?  How different was it from every other call you have led?

  4. Documents: We all have TPS Reports that need to go out and they usually live in some combination of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF.  The question is what do yours look like?  Are they a maze of grey and black 10-point font on a white background or do they draw a reader in with visuals, color or even…gasp…fun?

  5. Recognition: This one is huge and presents itself constantly each day.  How are you recognizing the people on your team?  Are you delighting them with thoughtful, interesting and fun forms of recognition or sending them home with another gift card (if anything at all?)

It’s easy to blame the drivers, our teams, when it comes to cases of My-Way Hypnosis.  The first place to look, however, is at ourselves and the kind of environment we’ve created for our team.  We have the choice to make changes and they don’t have to be huge or earth shattering in scope.  In fact, it’s probably best that they aren’t.

I will be digging deeper into to each of these areas in future articles and sharing ways to challenge the status quo.  I would love to get your thoughts as well.

How are you working to avoid My-Way Hypnosis?


Business doesn’t have to be boring


I have watched the LEGO Movie no less than twenty times with my 8-year-old son, Andrew. I love it. And one of my favorite characters is President Business, portrayed by the voice of Will Ferrell, who is the head of Octan Corporation (and the world…) He is intent on standardizing everything around him and making sure that everyone is following the directions. In fact, he is determined to stamp out creativity all together. In a nutshell – he is built out of how “business” is viewed from the eyes of a child (and most adults, too, probably.)  Hilarity ensues.

Sound familiar?

Despite what long meetings, rambling e-mails and parades of bullet points have conditioned us to think…business doesn’t have to be boring, standardized or annoying.

It really is a choice. Or actually, a series of little choices we are faced with making every day as leaders. Think about it:

  • Guess I’ll run the same ‘ol Monday sales meeting today
  • Time to mindlessly “fire off” those e-mail messages to the team
  • Better reduce the font size to fit a few more bullets on my PowerPoint slides
  • It’s been a day, I think I’ll schedule another conference call
  • Let’s meet at Panera Bread where all the other reps are meeting

You get the idea.

This is something I have come to terms with over the last several years and is the reason that I started this blog. I’ve decided to own of the fact that I have control, through my daily activity, over how engaging or boring work is for the folks I have the opportunity to serve. That’s all me.  I can be President Business or The Special (if you haven’t seen the movie, this little scene might give you the gist: We all have the choice.

I hope to use this site as a platform for sharing ideas with, and learning from, like-minded leaders – like YOU! Together, we can fight the leadership battle against boring and find ways to engage and inspire people to do great things.

Everything is awesome,