18 Quotes from a Brilliant Eccentric

Cherish people who are eccentric. They see things differently.

Kurt Vonnegut authored several books that transfixed the reading public from 1959 to the posthumous publication of his last work in 2013, including The Sirens of Titan, Mother Night, Cat’s Cradle, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, Jailbird, and many others.

Here he is on video demonstrating his theory of the shape of stories. He originally developed the theory for his thesis as a student at the University of Chicago. They ...

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Importance of Capturing and Holding Attention

I can’t overemphasize the importance of capturing and holding attention. As a public speaker, it’s the first place you can fail to be understood, remembered, and believed.

Holding attention is very important in a presentation. Otherwise people won’t listen to what you say or hear what you say. That means you will also fail to persuade them to take the action you need them to take.

I think inside the mind of all your audience members, they are thinking that ...

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Quick! Name a Memorable Talk!

When I ask people to name a memorable speech, they seem to have a brain hiccup. The most common response is to talk about the most recent speech they’ve experienced.

If I had to answer the question at this moment I’d say I remember the talk Richard Brodhead gave at the Convocation of the Class of 2006 at Yale University.

Brodhead was Dean of Yale College at the time.  He has since become President ...

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Don’t Forget “For Instance”

Recently I was asked to help two executives get ready to sell their company, so we needed to perfect the sales pitch.

Within a week they would be putting their company on the chopping block.  It was time to get busy.

After a long drive and a wakeful night in a hotel,  I arrived at their offices at 7:00 am.

To start, I interviewed them on camera for two reasons: to get them acclimated to ...

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Power of Examples

The power of examples is huge, and it’s probably underestimated.

Recently, I went to a private equity firm. They were asking me to help sell a portfolio company that they owned.

Of course, the presentation was really slick. They had a bunch of financial terms: EBITDA, CAGR, P&L for almost every month that the company had been in existence. It was a highly quantitative, highly mathematical presentation, and when they finished delivering it to ...

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A Little Taste of Abraham on the Stump: Substance and style from a master communicator

William Henry Herndon was a law partner and biographer of President Abraham Lincoln.  They were a study in contrasts, opposites in temperament.

Despite a poetic streak, Lincoln’s mind was logical, and he longed for the day when “reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason,” would rule the world.

Herndon was intuitive; he fancied that he could ‘see to the gizzard of things’ and could predict the future because he “felt it in his bones.”

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