Transcript: Carmine Gallo Discusses Three Secrets All Inspiring Messages Share at Stanford

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Howard Schultz: Starbucks in a sense has become the quintessential experience brand, and the experience comes to life by our people. We’ve been able to, I think, create a system of attracting, retaining great people, building a training system that replicates what we do. And I think the only competitive advantage, and this is, you know, an anathema compared to a tech company, is we have no patent. We have no secret sauce whatsoever. The only competitive advantage we have is the relationship we’ve built with our people, and the relationship they have built with the customer. So when we go to.

Interviewer: You mentioned competitive advantage. You haven’t mentioned the word coffee.

Howard Schultz: Not yet.

Interviewer: Your competitive advantage is not your coffee.

Howard Schultz: Well, well I’ll get to —

Interviewer: You just said your competitive advantage, I agree with you, is the —

Howard Schultz: Yeah.

Interviewer: Relationship with your people and the people with their customers.

Howard Schultz: And in fact, if you ask me what business we’re in, we’re in the people business. We’re not in the coffee business.

Interviewer: Mm-hm.

Howard Schultz: Of course, we are as a product, but we’re in the people business. 135,000 people, hiring 300 people a day, serving 40 million customers a week, it’s all human connection. It’s a sense of humanity and the sense of community that we’ve built in our stores. So, at the end of the day what we’ve been able to do is crack the code on being able to create an environment where people are treated well, they’re respected, they’re valued Customers come in and they recognize this is a different kind of environment, almost an oasis.

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Almost an oasis. What is he talking about? What is he really selling? You need to ask yourself what is it that I’m passionate about, and you need to dig deep to find that. I love at the end of one of Steve Jobs’ great presentations, one of his last presentations, he said it’s the intersection of technology and liberal arts that makes our hearts sing.

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And so now I ask clients that question. I don’t even ask them: what are you passionate about? Now it’s what makes your heart sing? The answer to that question is a lot different than the answer to, what do you make? What do you do? How is it different? That’s a much more inspiring answer. So you need to dig deep and identify what am I passionate about and what really makes my heart sing. And don’t be afraid to express your emotion about it.

Passion is contagious. I’m not going to go into the studies, but there are now numerous studies which show people who are passionate and enthusiastic and excited, guess what, it does rub off on people.

Be passionate, that’s number one. But now let me reveal several techniques that you can use today to make your everyday messages, your messages your PowerPoints, your pitches, a little more inspiring.

So let’s talk about the role that you’re going to play as a communicator and as a leader. I’m going to break this up into three acts.

Act one, how do we make it understandable? How do we make our message clear, easy to get, understandable? There are a number of techniques. We could talk about it all day, but there is one in particular I do want to mention. I did talk about this two years ago when I talked to the graduate students here at Stanford. It’s as relevant today as it was two years ago, creating Twitter friendly headlines. I love Twitter as an exercise.

Twitter, how many of you are on Twitter right now? Okay. Okay many, more of you. Every time I ask that question of students, like, every year, more and more and more. My Twitter handle is just my name, if you’d like to follow me it’s @carminegallo. So go ahead and follow me. I’d love to have a conversation with you on Twitter.

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Okay. So how many characters does Twitter allow? You know, 140. Not very much. One sentence. If you can’t describe what you do in one sentence of 140 characters, do me a favor. Go back to the drawing board. Let’s try again. You need to give people the big picture. The brain craves meaning before detail. This is one of those big revelations I learned in communications theory. And I learned it from John Medina at the University of Washington, who said, “Carmine, when primitive man ran into a tiger, he did not ask how many teeth does the tiger have? He asked, will it eat me? Should I run? Big picture before details”. Big picture.

What do you do in 140 characters or less? When Wendy Kopp started Teach for America in 1989, she told me that she had a one sentence vision to reduce educational inequities. And that was the vision statement that she presented to investors and stakeholders. It served her very well. More than 20 years later, that’s still the vision, to reduce educational inequities. Today more than 30,000 students have gone through her program teaching underprivileged kids around the country.

Now some of you would know better than I, but I believe, unless I’m wrong, I believe that Teach for America is the number one college recruiter. Is it not? One of the top college recruiters. Yeah, I mean very successful.

But again, how do you describe something to investors? She had to go out and get investors. This was a Princeton project. Okay, it was a dissertation. She had to go out and get investors excited about her idea, but they needed to see the big picture first. What was she trying to accomplish?