Talk Like TED

Great public speaking advice, even if you’re never invited to TED.

Carmine Gallo is a communications coach that has helped executives from leading organizations improve their presentation skills. In his latest book, Talk Like TED (St. Martin’s Press, ISBN 978-1250041128), Mr. Gallo unpacks the keys to success behind some of the most downloaded TED presentations. TED is a non-profit that stands for Technology, Education, and Design and organizes an annual conference where speakers have just 18 minutes to share “Ideas Worth Spreading”.

Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo

As with one of his previous books, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, much of the material can be viewed on Netflix, YouTube or the TED web site. Watching a presentation while reading Mr. Gallo’s analysis is helpful, especially when learning how to better use one’s voice or body language to be a more effective speaker. Although TED talks organize the book’s structure, Mr. Gallo skillfully weaves in stories from his consulting work and expert interviews from scientists who study human learning.


It’s highly unlikely that I’ll be invited to speak at a TED event. But I intend to learn everything I can from those who do.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Apple Experience

A review of The Apple Experience by Carmine Gallo

If you’ve never ventured into an Apple Store, today’s announcement of new Apple laptops might make you want to visit. And a visit to an Apple Store is quite an experience. While not every location is as visibly dramatic as Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York City with its impressive glass cube, Apple Stores are always located in the most fashionable retail locations. But what is it about these stores that can make the most die-hard Microsoft or Android fan want to buy a MacBook Pro, a new iPhone, or an iPad?

The Apple Experience by Carmine Gallo is the third book of a “trilogy” that includes The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs. The focus of this title is about the inner workings of Apple’s retail stores, which generate more revenue per square foot than any other retailer. But Apple hasn’t reached lofty revenue goals by focusing exclusively on revenue. In fact, the Apple retail store concept was widely ridiculed almost immediately as the first store opened in 2001. Instead, the focus of Apple’s retail stores is “enriching lives”. Apple understands that customers don’t just want to purchase a computer. Customers want to know how to use a computer to achieve their goals.

A key lesson that Apple learned in the development of their retail concept was to look outside of their industry for inspiration. So instead of looking at Gateway Computer, whose retail stores were permanently closed in 2004, Apple looked to the Four Seasons Hotel and its fantastic customer experience.

And just as Apple looked to other sources for its inspiration, so has author Carmine Gallo. While Apple’s logo graces the cover and many of the book’s major themes, he also profiles companies such as AT&T, Lush, Starbucks, and Zappos.

The 256-page book is organized into three parts: Inspiring Your Internal Customer, Serving Your External Customer, and Setting the Stage. I expected the book to focus on typical retail concepts like selling skills or product placement. But I was surprised that Mr. Gallo devotes nearly 90 pages to Inspiring Your Internal Customer – your employees. Hiring and training are a big part of creating the Apple experience.

At first glance, it might seem like this book is only relevant to people working in the retail industry. But as the author writes,

This book is for anyone who has a business that deals with people. Sure, it includes retailers in any category. But… it’s for anyone who is serious about reimagining the customer experience, because at its core, this book is not about Apple. It’s about the soul of Apple – it’s people.

Most people don’t know why they feel good in an Apple Store, they just do. But it’s people who elevate the customer experience – people who are inspired, are passionate, and have been given the resources and taught the communication techniques required to turn transactions into experiences…

Apple inspires and creates a happy place for people to work and for customer to learn. Inspire people and anything can happen.

So where is the value in this book for business intelligence professionals? Business intelligence is more than “big data” or “sexy visualization tools”. It’s about helping people solve business problems with technology- about enriching lives, just like Apple Stores. And just like Apple learned a lot about customer service by studying organizations outside its industry, I believe that you’ll learn a lot about improving your business intelligence organization’s customer experience in a similar way.

BI managers, in particular, should definitely read this book. Then take the whole BI team to a nearby Apple Store. Take a look at those iPads and their possibility for mobile business intelligence. Deliberately engage with the Apple Store employees. Then take some time afterward to discuss the store visit with your team. What impressed them about their experience? What, if anything, was unremarkable or undesirable?

Then ask the bigger questions. What would a business intelligence genius bar look like? How can our organization implement training similar to the Apple Store’s One-to-One program to increase user adoption? How can we employ Apple’s Five Steps of Service and rethink how we engage our users? How do we make the experience memorable and not the usual “oh crap, I need to go talk to somebody in IT”?

These are important questions. And I believe this book can help inspire you to find some answers.

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True Story

I had never heard of Lush soaps until reading this book, which inspired me to get some of their products for my wife. An interesting company with an unusual approach to beauty products. Worth checking out both for the products and the in-store retail experience. Their “About Us” video is pretty funny as well as informative.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from McGraw-Hill, the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

What do you think a genius bar for business intelligence would look like? Does your organization have one?

The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs

The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs reveals how to get rid of the “crappy stuff”.

Last year, my father-in-law gave me The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs as a great Christmas gift (see my book review). This year, he put a copy of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs (McGraw-Hill, 2010, ISBN 978-0071748759) under the tree (My father-in-law and I share a love for business books). Although author Carmine Gallo focuses on Steve Jobs and Apple, he rounds out his analysis using leaders from other industries using similar innovation secrets. The book is organized into seven “secrets”:

  1. Do what you love
  2. Put a dent in the universe
  3. Kick-start your brain
  4. Sell dreams, not product
  5. Say no to 1,000 things
  6. Create insanely great experiences
  7. Master the message

People who create business intelligence solutions, whether data models, semantic layers, reports, or dashboards, will find a lot of thought-provoking material.  The “secret” that resonated with me most was “say no to 1,000 things”. Steve Jobs has said “I’m actually as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.” From non-existent products like an Apple PDA to non-existent physical keyboards on an iPhone, Apple’s fresh approaches to product design are frequently criticized for not having enough options. But clearly, Apple has created devices that change the way we live. Model T automobiles instead of faster horses.

Imagine for a moment that you designed a performance dashboard for Apple and had the final review with Steve Jobs (Personally, I find this thought terrifying). Would he say something like “[Your business intelligence team] makes some of the best [dashboards] in the world. [Dashboards] that you lust after. Absolutely beautiful, stunning [dashboards]. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff”?

My frustration about this book isn’t about the book at all. It’s about me. I can read a book like Presentation Secrets and measure over time if I’m becoming a better communicator. But “Innovation Secrets”? How does one measure and improve their own personal KPI for innovation? How do I get rid of the “crappy stuff”? It’s tremendously difficult, even though Mr. Gallo provides action items at the end of each chapter.

This week is certainly an interesting one to write a book review about Steve Jobs. With financial markets closed for Martin Luther King Day, we learned on Monday that 55-year-old Mr. Jobs will go on medical leave for a second time. Then on Tuesday we hear about record quarterly earnings for Apple, surpassing analysts’ estimates by $2 billion dollars. All of this is followed by the deluge of rhetorical articles about “whether Apple can survive without Steve Jobs.”  Although Steve Jobs has many gifts, he- like us- does not possess the gift of immortality (check out his 2005 Stanford University commencement address on YouTube). The universe has a way of moving ahead without us. But like Steve Jobs, we can all make a best effort at “putting a dent in the universe”.

Or at least a dent in the common semantic layer.

Have you read The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs?  Share your thoughts below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

If your career involves communicating and connecting with an audience, large or small, this book is an excellent addition to your bookshelf.

My father-in-law gave me a great Christmas gift- a copy of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience (McGraw-Hill, 2009, ISBN 978-0071636087). I spend about half of my career using presentation skills, either as a business intelligence instructor, conference speaker, or technical sales consultant.  So I was really pumped that he got something I really wanted but forgot to put on my Christmas wish list.


The book is a nicely structured analysis of one of the technology world’s most fascinating personalities, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.  The author, Carmine Gallo, is a professional communication skills coach.  He takes readers through the entire lifecycle of a Steve Jobs presentation, starting from planning (“Create the Story”), delivery (“Deliver the Experience”) and preparation (“Refine and Rehearse”).  There are other books that focus on creating slides or giving demos – this book is comprehensive and covers the entire experience.

Steve Jobs speaks to a general audience and Mr. Gallo writes frequently about how Steve communicates about technical features in a non-technical way.  For example, the original iPod was “1,000 songs that fit into your pocket“, not “a digital audio player with a 5 GB hard drive”.  In contrast, I’m usually speaking to a technical audience that wants a deep understanding of technology – they’re not looking to buy anything.  So not all of the material translates to what I do.  But regardless of what kind of presenter you are, holding the audience’s attention is the first order of business.  The book has already influenced how I communicate to non-technical audiences, especially when I train business users how to use SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence.  And I’m looking forward to giving the book a second reading.  I’ll also be checking out the hours of Steve Jobs presentations on YouTube.  And editing my recent GBN 2009 presentations for a second go-around with other audiences.

If your career involves communicating and connecting with an audience, large or small, this book is an excellent addition to your bookshelf.

Have you read The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs? Share your thoughts below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as a gift, not from the publisher. It was not a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”