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

You start with a Twitter-friendly headline. What’s the one thing you want people to know about your product? The one thing, the most important consistent thing, based on my understanding of the Lush brand. I did interview the CEO. Last year, I wrote a story about them. That’s where my connection ends, but I know their messaging really well.

Here’s what I think their Twitter-friendly headline is. Lush crafts, handmade, soaps and cosmetics. Handmade. That’s their key phrase, their keyword. It’s on the paper bags that you take home. The in-store signage, the advertising, the marketing, the website. Handmade soaps and cosmetics. So, in one sentence, it helps you categorize it. Carolina, earlier said, it’s fancy soap. So, okay, fancy soap. Maybe that could be a headline, too. But this whole handmade fancy soap allows me to categorize it into another category. Now I know it’s probably a little different than the soap that I would get at the grocery store.

But I need more evidence. Give me three reasons why I should consider Lush soap? Okay, why don’t we start with fresh and organic? Everything all of the ingredients here are fresh, natural. They’re made one day, shipped the next. Everything is a non-toxic ingredient, so it’s very, very good for your skin. It’s fresh and organic. It’s environmentally friendly. That’s why it’s not wrapped in plastic. That’s why it’s recyclable paper. So that there’s no plastic that goes into landfills. Nothing that’s — none of the ingredients or chemicals are tested on animals. So everything’s environmentally friendly and, part of the proceeds go to support ethical campaigns. Campaigns in the community, and also campaigns on a global scale.

There’s your Message Map. So you can see how this works. I could hand this message map to a brand new employee who has only been there for a couple of days. Somebody walks into Lush, looks around, says, oh, this is interesting. Tell me more about this store. Well, at Lush, we craft handmade soaps and cosmetics. Everything you see here in the store is fresh, and it’s natural, with real natural ingredients, that are good for your skin.

Everything is environmentally friendly. That’s why you’ll find everything wrapped in recyclable paper, so we don’t fill landfills with trash and plastic. And, part of the benefits go to support some really cool ethical campaigns that, help people here in our own community, I’d love to tell you about. But listen, why don’t you go around and look around? I think you’ll like what you see.

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All of a sudden it becomes, oh that’s interesting, there’s a real story behind it. Some of their ethical campaigns I don’t necessarily agree with. I fall on the other side of some of their campaigns, just, you know, from a philosophical perspective. But guess what? It’s interesting. There’s a story. There’s a real story behind it. And there’s engaged people as well. That’s a message map. It’s very, very simple to create. Since — you can have that one since you like the smell. Now you’ll be giving off good karma, too.

So that’s a message map, but it doesn’t work without the Rule of Three. You see how you got to have all of the other things we just talked about? If you don’t understand the big picture, you don’t understand the Rule of Three and selling the benefit, then nothing else matters. Then you can’t create a message map without all of those other components, okay? This works really, really well.

I have created a message map for big companies, very complex information and a few weeks later, the executives come back to me and they say we just want to view a multi-million dollar account. I don’t take full credit, but if they want to credit the message map, terrific. The reason they credit the message map is because for the first time they have clarity in their message. And if they’re clear on it, it’s clear to the audience as well. You can’t confuse people.

How do we make a presentation emotional?

And finally, we have to make our messages emotional. Emotion is very important. [Shahid] here at Stanford, John Hyde at the University of Virginia, they’ve all been using this metaphor, which is brilliant. Most of you have probably heard about it, the rider and the elephant. If you think about the way the brain processes information, the left brain wants the data, the analysis, logic. That’s the rider, the person steering the elephant. The right brain, or the emotional part of the brain, it’s the elephant. The rider thinks he’s in control, left brain thinks it’s in control, but where the rider wants to go that’s where inspiration ultimately occurs.

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John Medina at the University of Washington made it even simpler for me. He said, “Carmine, the brain does not pay attention to boring things”. He said the brain is not programmed to grasp abstract concepts.

Okay, so how do we get past that? How do we make a presentation emotional? Tell stories. Nobody in corporate America tells stories anymore. Stories are undervalued, they’re under appreciated, they’re under utilized, tell stories. Marissa Mayer the new CEO of Yahoo, former VP of Google, guess what she does in presentations? She tells stories, and she’s considered very charismatic. Somebody I know, at a very large company, saw an internal presentation given by Marissa Meyer. And he came up to me a few weeks later, and he said, “Carmine, it was amazing. She spoke like 45 minutes, and she only used 10 slides”.

And I asked him, “How did she do that?”

“Well, let’s see, oh, she told stories!” No kidding, stories. Tell stories. You can tell stories about your product, how it came to be. You can tell personal stories, you can tell stories about customers. A case study is a story. And when you — we’re going to get to this in a minute, when you tell stories, like Marissa Mayer when she tells stories, she uses visual slides to complement her stories. The slides are not the story. The slides simply complement the story.

Stories are powerful. I spoke to this gentleman last year, his name is Bryan Stevenson. Bryan Stevenson gave a TED lecture. At the end of that lecture, he inspired the audience to donate $1 million to his non-profit, The Equal Justice Initiative. He is passionate about social justice. He argues cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and he won a landmark case last year. It is now unconstitutional to impose a mandatory life sentence on a juvenile, on someone convicted as a juvenile. Thanks to Mr. Stevenson. We had a conversation about communications. Guess what he said? “Carmine, I don’t know what to tell you. You say I’m charismatic. That’s great, I’m flattered. I don’t know, I just get up there and tell stories”. No kidding, that’s why! You’re making an emotional connection with people. You tell stories.