Marketing Podcast with Carmine Gallo
In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Carmine Gallo. Carmine is the bestselling author of Talk Like TED and The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. He is a Harvard instructor, CEO communication coach, and keynote speaker known for transforming leaders. He’s the author of a new book we’re talking about called – The Bezos Blueprint: Communication Secrets of the World’s Greatest Salesman.
What fueled Amazon’s astonishing growth? Effective, clear communication. Jeff Bezos turned a bold idea into the world’s most influential company, a brand that likely touches your life every day. As a student of leadership and communication, he learned to elevate the way Amazonians write, collaborate, innovate, pitch, and present. He created a scalable model that grew from a small team in a Seattle garage to one of the world’s largest employers. Carmine Gallo joins me in this episode to reveal the communication strategies that Jeff Bezos pioneered to fuel Amazon’s growth. Bezos reimagined the way leaders write, speak, and motivate teams and customers. The communication tools Bezos created are so effective that former Amazonians who worked directly with Bezos adopted them as blueprints to start their own companies. Now, these tools are available to you.
Questions I ask Carmine Gallo:
- [1:57] Why did you choose Bezos to focus your book on?
- [6:20] You start off the book with – “Simple is the new superpower.” Is this the premise of the book and can you break down this idea?
- [10:07] Would you say that this is a writing book?
- [12:08] You break the book into three parts. The first part is about discovering why strong writing skills are more essential than ever – can you unpack that idea?
- [17:12] Part two talks about story building and story structure. How do you feel like this book will bring structure to the conversation?
- [19:32] Part three then is about delivery. Can you talk through this idea and how to deliver with impact?
- [23:18] Can you unpack the Day One concept?
- [25:07] Where can people pick up a copy of your book and connect with you?
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(00:55): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Carmine Gallo. He's the best selling author of Talk Like Ted and the Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. He's a Harvard instructor, CEO, communication coach and keynote speaker known for Transforming Leaders. He's also the author of a new book we're gonna talk about today, The Bezos Blueprint, Communication Secrets of the World's Greatest Salesman. So Carmine, welcome back to the
Carmine Gallo (01:26): Show. Hey, John, Nice to thank you for inviting me. I've been a fan of a lot of the recent podcasts, especially I see you had Paul Zack on on one of your podcasts not too long ago to the neuroscientists. So he and I exchange emails and ideas, especially when it comes to storytelling and oxytocin and all that good stuff that he does the
John Jantsch (01:48): Research and we got into some pretty, pretty deep stuff. No, no question.
Carmine Gallo (01:52): So I feel my oxytocin levels rising already
John Jantsch (01:58): So, so let's jump into your new book, and I'm gonna start off by asking maybe what might be a gut reaction by some people, kind of why Bezos, I know you're gonna tell me why, but there's also not everybody loves him
Carmine Gallo (02:20): When, if you ask 10 people for an opinion on whoever it might be, right? Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, you know, any of these visionaries and entrepreneurs here in America, if you ask 10 people for their opinion on Jeff Bezos, which I've done over the last three years of doing the research for my new book, you get 10 different opinions. Right? Wide variety of opinions. Yeah, yeah. Running the gamut. If you asked 10 people who worked side by side with Jeff Bezos, their opinions are very consistent. They even use remarkably the same words. They all start with the, the most visionary person they've ever met. Then they move into demanding a person who demanded excellence of himself and others around him. And the, and John, they always end with the same observation. They say, Carmine, I would never have traded it for the world. That's what, that's where I picked up. Yeah. Why, What did you learn from Jeff Bezos that you adopted and carried over into the companies that you started? So really, my book, The Blueprint is not based just on Bezos, but it's based on interviews and conversations with former Amazonians who have adopted the leadership and communication strategies that Bezos pioneered to build Amazon. And copied, blatantly copied some of those systems and used them to build their own companies. That's what fascinates me.
John Jantsch (03:54): Yeah. Yeah. And I assume you probably had some similar research, and maybe even you could have answered this question maybe the same way in your previous book about Steve Jobs, didn't you? I mean, there a lot of people that felt absolutely very demanding. Yeah. Yeah.
Carmine Gallo (04:08): I, If you want to have a conversation on the role of Amazon in e-commerce or retail, there are plenty of books and articles on that subject. If you'd like to have a conversation about billionaires and or income inequality, whatever it might be. There's plenty of Bo, there are plenty of books and essays on that subject. What I wanted to focus on is, what, one of the things that intrigued me is I was watching an interview with Walter Isaacson, the famous biographer of Steve Jobs Einstein, uh, Ben Franklin and his other books, and he was asked, who of today's contemporary leaders would he put in the same category? And without missing a beat, he said Jeff Bezos, because Jay Bezos was not only a visionary, but he was also creative and invented so many mechanisms that startups and managers and leaders use today. So plus John, look, we're storytellers. I'm an author, The story is irresistible. Yeah. A guy with a bold idea and really no contacts and no funding at that time. No name for a company transforms the idea into one of the world's most admired brands. And we can argue a company that has more impact over our lives than almost any other single company other than the company you work for. So the story itself is irresistible. Can't, don't tell me not to pursue that story. That's a good story.
John Jantsch (05:43): So yeah, I think arguably you could say, you know, you're talking about more on our individual consumer behavior and lives, but certainly the entire behavior, e-commerce for sure, retail,
Carmine Gallo (05:55): John, if I had nothing to teach you from studying Bezos, his writing, the strategies he put in place to fuel Amazon, I would not have written the book. It took me into so many different places that my other books that just didn't afford me, and I continued to learn. I'm constantly learning from some of the strategies he put in place, as did many others. That's what fascinates me.
John Jantsch (06:20): So you start out the book with this, and I've heard you say this, the Bezos blueprint, the readers will learn why simple is the new superpower. So you could argue that's, I mean, you're really kind of starting with that as the overall premise of the book, aren't you?
Carmine Gallo (06:35): Yeah, I could have titled the book Simple as the New Superpower, because a lot of it really falls under how do we simplify complex information. So in an age when we are being bombarded by information, all of our customers, our clients, now let's focus on marketers and the people who are listening to our podcast specifically, How do you rise above the noise? How do you cut through it? Well, the secret to cutting through the noise is not necessarily to add more noise, but to go in the opposite direction and to cut through it. So there's a number of different ways to stand apart that appear kind of, or sound counterintuitive early, early on, at least to me. And one is to use short words to talk about big ideas or to talk about hard things. Yeah. And that, to me, that is simple as the new superpower.
(07:36): So I have an analysis in the book, and I have a graphic that goes along with it. I reviewed 50,000 words that Bezos wrote in a shareholder letters over time. And a lot of experts and a lot of CEOs and company founders tell me that those shareholder letters were models of simplicity, which kinda led me in that direction. I analyzed all the, all of the letters, put them through software tools. And here's something remarkable. As Amazon grew bigger and much more complex, you're talking about adding artificial intelligence and cloud computing. The writing got better over time. And the, And how did it get better? If you look at readability statistics or readability software, it's measured by grade level. Yeah. So you probably know this, but what grade level should you be writing for to reach a wide and the largest and widest variety of readers and listeners? What grade level do you think that would be?
John Jantsch (08:37): Uh, probably not post-graduate thesis level.
Carmine Gallo (08:41): Absolutely not. Right?
John Jantsch (08:42): Like little lower. I mean, I, I've heard sixth, seventh grade.
Carmine Gallo (08:45): Yeah. It's eighth grade. It's eighth grade level. So if you write at an eighth grade level, you are still writing for intelligent adults. That's the whole, whole counterintuitive notion about it. It doesn't mean that you're dumbing down the content. It means that you are allow giving people the opportunity to use less mental energy to absorb what you're writing. Yeah. Right. That means short words to replace long words, uh, ancient words, one syllable words to replace those Latin-based words that fill up legal contracts,
John Jantsch (10:07): Yeah. I guess we didn't say this at the outset. I think it would be easy for people to think, Oh, you're gonna teach me how to build an e-commerce business or something. And what this book really focuses on is writing, developing stories, writing storytelling in a way that gets your message across. And so it, it really is a, Would you say that it's really a writing book?
Carmine Gallo (10:25): Oh, yeah. If you'd like to learn how to be a third party seller on Amazon, it's not gonna teach you that
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Carmine Gallo (12:23): Yeah. Especially about, well, that the first chapter is called Simple is the New Superpower because we kind of go into those writing skills. But I also did, I wanted to make this approachable. So I did go back to class myself. I interviewed some of the top writing authors. People have written books on grammar and English grammar and how to write well because eh, a lot of writing books are kind of boring. It's not like those are the first books that we go to all the time. And so I definitely wanted to, just to understand some of the themes that each and every one of us could use, not just in writing, but whenever we are trying to simplify complex information, whether that's in written word or in the way we articulate and present our ideas and information. And that's why simple could be the words you choose. That's one way of making it simple. How about metaphors and analogies? I have an entire TA chapter just on analogy and an entire chapter just on metaphor, because Bezos, Warren Buffett, and many other leaders who are considered excellent communicators in their own way, tend to use metaphors comparing something that's abstract to something that's familiar. And there are a lot of famous metaphors that Jeff Bezos introduced at Amazon that continue to be used today, not just at Amazon, but many other companies.
John Jantsch (13:49): It, yeah, I mean, I think one, one of the things metaphors, you know, really can do for is take a complex idea and have people get it right away. And, you know, in a handful of words, I think they also can be mixed. That can be misused,
Carmine Gallo (14:18): It? Oh, thank you, John. I actually talk about that again, if a metaphor is too cliche, it's a, it's not going to connect with people in any, any meaningful way. So it's a little too long to get into. But Bezos chose the analogies and the metaphors he used extremely precisely. He was very deliberate about the metaphors he choose. He chose, So he took the flywheel concept. I'll just give you one quick example. Yeah, yeah. He took the flywheel concept, which he read from a book. He's a voracious reader, Read a book by Jim Collins. Yeah. And took this whole idea of the flywheel mechanism and used it as a metaphor for how to grow a company, how to create growth momentum within a company. So it's a metaphor that has to become an analogy in order to be explained. He has to be able to explain it a little bit.
(15:14): And that's sort of the difference between a good metaphor and an analogy. An analogy is more of an a tool for education, but that if you look up Amazon flywheel or even the flywheel effect, it's often tied back to Amazon. And a lot of people use it in different organizations. But if it wasn't for Jeff Bezos reading a book, adopting something from a different discipline and applying it to his company, it wouldn't be nearly as popular a buzzword as it is today. Yeah. So reading, thinking, always growing, applying ideas from different fields, different disciplines, different books, that was sort of the secret sauce that helped fuel Amazon's strategy and align teams from 1994 all the way to today. They still use the very same metaphors and strategies that Bazos put in place decades ago.
John Jantsch (16:10): Yeah. Flat, you've flywheel, you know, in every startup, you know, Silicon Valley, you know, entrepreneur is using, you know that as Exactly
Carmine Gallo (16:19): Sean, what was fascinating to me is for years I live in Silicon Valley, so for years I hear things like flywheels. I hear two pizza teams. Yeah. That's another Bezos metaphor. I hear that constantly in startups. I also hear them talk about six pagers, which are narrative memos that, again, Bezos buy at Amazon. More often than not, when I tell people that, Oh, you know, that's an Amazon thing, it really got started at Amazon under Jeff Bezos. They look at me like they've never heard that idea before. I mean, I got this blank expression on my, on their face. And so that's why I realized that there were a lot of things that Bezos created, these mechanisms that he created at Amazon people use today, and not even aware that it's directly tied to his vision.
John Jantsch (17:12): The part two talks about story building and story structure. You can't really pick up a marketing book today that doesn't talk about storytelling
Carmine Gallo (17:40): I hope I can add something to it, because I have a feeling some of my writing was responsible for creating some of this as storytelling is a buzzword. Cuz I wrote a book that talked like Ted, which really went into storytelling. Then I wrote an entire book just on business storytelling called A Storyteller Secret. And I get that book quoted back to me quite a bit. When people talk about storytelling, You're right, it's now become a buzzword, but it's still abstract. Yeah. I don't think a lot of people understand what it is. So I try to give people some very simple, actionable tools that they could use. The ver the simplest thing, and very few people understand this, maybe your audience does more than other leaders. Yeah. And that's the three act structure. So I've got at least the whole chapter just on the three act structure, which Bezos follows meticulously when he talks about the Amazon story.
(18:37): And the three act structure is the same structure as most Hollywood movies Follow, which is, act one is the setup. Act two is the challenge or confrontation. Act three is the resolution. Very few people break their presentations up into a three act structure, introduce products as a three act structure. Steve Jobs was very intentional about doing so. So I try to break down how to, what we mean by storytelling and how to do it simply. Yeah. I feel like the three act structure is something that many people are not aware of, John, but it's simple for them to implement and it helps them understand what we mean by storytelling.
John Jantsch (19:18): Yeah. I think a lot of times just giving people an outline, a structure, you know, like that makes it easier for them to go, Oh, okay, now I know where to start.
Carmine Gallo (19:25): Yeah. Don't just say, do storytelling, you gotta be a storyteller. I hear that all the time. Yeah. Yeah. I don't think the average leader understands how to implement that.
John Jantsch (19:32): Yeah, totally agree. Uh, so part three then is about, okay, I've got my story. I know what I'm supposed to say. How do I deliver it in a way that is going to have impact, which is I think essentially what part three is about.
Carmine Gallo (19:44): Yeah. My favorite chapter in part three is make the mission. Your mantra again, I think is a, is an area that very few people understand or they certainly don't, it's not an element of their communication that they're v it's that's very obvious to them. We all have a mission. Okay. Almost every company has some kind of mission or purpose. Often as you know, they're just gobbly cook. It's a mission statement that's drafted by committee and put into a drawer somewhere. And that's why I never was a big fan of mission statements because most of the people I interview or work with can't even remember their own company's mission statement. Yep. So I didn't put a lot of stock into that. Then I started researching Bezos and Amazon. I'm looking at it differently now. Don't look at it as a mission. Think of it as a mantra in 1998, in a second shareholder letter, or 1999 Yeah.
(20:43): Second shareholder letter, Jeff Bezos began to articulate this idea that Amazon would be the world's most customer-centric company, the world's most customer-centric company at the time. John, it may not mean a lot to you today, but at the time it certainly did because most people had the question, what's the internet? And now you want me to buy something and put my credit card into this thing? They didn't understand it. So everything had to be customer obsessed. But what Bezos did over 24 shareholder letters and in every interview, every presentation, everything I could get my hands on for 30 years, he always brought it back to the mission. We are earth's most customer centric company and that's why when we developed the Kindle, this is what it means to the customer. We are earth's most customer centric company. And that's why when we developed our new cloud division, this is what it means to the customer.
(21:46): Yeah. Everything was about bringing it back to the central mission. And today, this was 19 98, 19 99. When you go onto Amazon today, what's the mission? Earth's most customer centric company? When I heard Andy Chassy, who was the new CEO of Amazon, when I heard him in his first interview, he used that phrase several times. It's internalized Bezos isn't even there, he's on the board, but he's now he's running, you know, Blue Origin a space company, but it's still internalized within the company and that, that's what I mean by a mantra. Yeah. Forget about this mission statement, Turn your purpose and mission into a mantra that is simple, easy to understand, and something that the leader repeats. Yeah. If you don't repeat it, it doesn't mean
John Jantsch (22:34): Anything. Yeah. I mean, you you, one of the things about the mantra idea is, you know, it inherently brings in simple, but you're right. A lot of times, even if people are passionate about a mission that they have, if it's not baked into everything, people just, people forget about it. They don't, you know, if the leader's not saying it every day, why do I have to remember it?
Carmine Gallo (22:59): Uh, my wife Vanessa. Yeah. She works with, with you, me and co-teaches at, at Harvard, some other places with me.
John Jantsch (23:05): So, so when she kinda sent me, Hey, you know, Carmine's got a new book out, here's what it's about. And I'm thinking, ah, Amazon, you know, Apple, like what do they have to do with small business? I have a lot of small business owners show whisperers. Oh yeah, absolutely. And but when I dug into it a little bit, particularly, you know, one, one of the concepts, the day one concept, which is another term that I think you're gonna suggest was Coin by Bezos. You know, that's something that really, I don't care what size company you are, that is really a pretty brilliant idea, isn't it?
Carmine Gallo (23:35): Absolutely. And talk about the mission. So on day one, Day one is not a thing, although if you go to Seattle, it's a building, it's called the Day One building on the Amazon campus.
John Jantsch (25:02): So, Carmen, I appreciate your stuff about the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast to talk about the Bezos Blueprint. You wanna invite people where they might find, obviously the book will be available everywhere, but where they might connect with you or find out more about your work.
Carmine Gallo (25:14): Yeah. Please visit me online. If you can remember a good Italian name like Carmine Gallo. You could find me online. You can go directly to to my website and that has my books and how you can contact me. And please for any of our listeners jump on LinkedIn. I love LinkedIn and I love having interactions and I talk to a lot of people every day on LinkedIn. So I think I'm the only Carmine Gallo in California. Ah. So I think I'm pretty easy to find.
John Jantsch (25:43): Well my, uh, freshman in high school Latin teacher's name was Father Mario Perelli. So
Carmine Gallo (25:49): Yes, you, you,
John Jantsch (25:50): Speaking of great Italian names.
Carmine Gallo (25:52): I know a lot of Marios
John Jantsch (25:54):
Carmine Gallo (26:03): Yeah, thank you. Great opportunity. I love your podcast. I love the platform and, and your listeners who I feel connected to. So thank you, John.
John Jantsch (26:12): Thank you sir. Hey, and one final thing before you go. You know how I talk about marketing strategy, strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that, what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the Marketing Strategy Assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co. Check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketingassessment.co. I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.
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