Do you want to learn how to communicate more effectively? MIT physicist and the best-selling author Joseph Romm shares why: Numbers numb and stories sell, virality isn’t born, it’s made, the memory creating the magic of radical rhetoric and how to communicate in a way that people actually understand and remember.
Biography – Thrive Nation on today’s show the iconic MIT graduate and physicist that Rolling Stone has called one of the “100 People Who Are Changing America.” Joseph J. Romm returns to teach you the five rules of going viral that he has used to promote his causes and the issues that he cares about. When Joseph Romm is not appearing on the Thrivetime Show he has served as a consultant for James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the creation of the SHOWTIME documentary called “YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY” starring random you’ve never heard about including: Matt Damon, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, America Ferrera, Jack Black, Sigourney Weaver, Thomas Friedman, Olivia Munn, David Letterman, Gisele Bündchen, Joshua Jackson, and Harrison Ford stops by to share how to break out of the clutter of commerce and how to go viral and reach millions.
When Joseph isn’t advising Hollywood A-Listers, he’s been writing his newest book How to Go Viral and Reach Millions: Top Persuasion Secrets from Social Media Superstars, Jesus, Shakespeare, Oprah, and Even Donald Trump. Joseph, welcome back onto the show, how are you, my friend?
NOTABLE QUOTABLE – “Numbers numb and stories sell.” Joseph Romm
Andrew, have you ever heard of mit? Yes, I have. Uh, apparently this Justin are. You have to be a smart person to go to MIT and to graduate from mit so I could not get into mit. Put on today’s show. We have the mit physicist and the best selling author who has served as the consultant of choice for James Cameron and Andrew. Have you ever seen Titanic? I have actually. Have you seen Avatar? I have not really? Yeah. So the guy who created both Avatar and titanic, the top-grossing movies of all time. Which Avatar, I don’t know if you’d like it. I’m not sure what you would think, but it’s one of the top-grossing movies of all time. Booked up point is the mit physicist and the consultant of choice for James Cameron and Arnold Schwartzenegger for the Showtime special years of living dangerously is on today’s show to share with us why numbers numb and stories sell, why virality isn’t born. It’s made the memory creating magic of radical rhetoric and how to communicate in a way that people actually understand. And
Raymond James Cameron to Arnold Schwarzenegger, to my homies on the west side. I see. You know what I mean? Oh,
so cross to students. All right. Who got the rebar?
Sure. All right. Welcome back to another exciting edition of the thrive time show on your radio and podcasts
downloaded. On today’s show, we are interviewing the iconic mit graduate and physicist, but the rolling stone has called one of the hundred people who are changing America. Show up. Were you impressed? That’s huge right there. Joseph Romm returns to teach us the five rules of going viral that he is used to promote his causes and the issues he cares about. And when Joseph Romm is not appearing on the thrive time show, he has been a consultant for folks. As such as James Cameron Arnold Schwarzenegger, and on the on the creation of the showtime documentary called years of living dangerously throwing random people. You’ve never heard of including Matt Damon jump. Have you heard of that name? Oh No. Jessica Alba. Nope. Don cheadle doesn’t ring a bell. America Ferrera. Jack Black? Nope. So Randy Weaver. Thomas Friedman. Oh yeah. We’ll have your mind. Nope. David Letterman come up just now. She has one name. Harrison Ford. Ladies and gentlemen, Joseph Romm returns onto another exciting edition of the thrive time show to break down his book, how to go viral and reach millions. Top persuasion secrets from social media superstars, Jesus Shakespeare, Oprah, and even Donald Trump. Joseph, welcome back onto the show, sir. How are you? I am really excited to be here again. I am more excited. I am more excited I could possibly contain. Contain. Your book is a. to put it technically speaking, I’m not sure you’d say to mit, it is hot.
Thank you. Yes, it’s everyone. Everyone who
reads it, they are the way they speak and write is changed by it.
Well, in your book, you quote the Wharton Business School professor and New York Times bestselling author of the book contagious Jonah Berger who wrote vitality isn’t born. It’s made. Joseph, what do you mean when you quote, what does this quote mean to you? If I rally isn’t born, it’s made.
Well, I think the key point is that a lot of people think that, um, there’s um, uh, it means virality can be taught. That’s what it means. It means that there’s nothing inherent in what goes viral there. There are certain patterns that if you study and look at the things that have gone viral, not just in recent years, but over the course of human history, you find certain patterns and if you study those patterns and apply them and uh, if you, you know, uh, you know, you obviously have to work hard at it and, and, and keep at it and keep getting better and better. But the point is, if you were to read my book how to go viral and reach millions, you would learn how to give birth to more viral content.
I think a lot of people struggle to communicate effectively. I know I, I, in the past years ago struggled to do that. And on page three of your book you wrote, the good news is also the bad news. Those who do understand the secrets of viral messaging are flooding the system, inundating it with both good news and bad news that grabs your attention, clicking and then keeps it sticky. You can cut through the clutter by embracing these five rules for consistently creating content that goes viral. Rule number one, story teller comparing Attila compelling story, but use these simple and, but they’re for formula. Rule two, figures of speech used the most unforgettable figures of speech, especially repetition, irony, and metaphor. Rule Three, oh, motion trigger, one of these three, activating emotions and trigger content sharing rule for you almost have to buy a physical copy of her book to grasp it. Memorable elements, select the most memorable words, phrases, and stories. Rule five, testing, embrace message testing and tested and tested messages. Joseph, can you talk to us about how your, how you came up with these five rules because your book breaks it down in such a simple and concrete way. I could you break down those. Need these five rules there. So succinct. They’re so good.
Sure. Well I appreciate that. Well, you know the look, the goal, as I said, I think using the modern lingo, the goal is to be cliquey and sticky. I think we can all agree that there is a staggering amount of content that we are bombarded with every day, not just on social media, the web, a cable news and if you want to cut through that you have to know a what is it that grabs people’s attention, what’s clicky and then what keeps it and what sticky. And so I spent a long time spent years, sort of A. I’ve been blogging for for 12 years and I have been working with some of the top, you know, viral storytellers like you mentioned James Cameron, a part of this years of living dangerously or two former 60 minutes producers with 13 men between them who are masters at viral videos.
And the point was Kenya. You can, I distill this in a way that people can find practical and, you know, straightforward to understand because a lot of books on communications as, as I’m sure you know, they can be very academic and I wanted this to be really stuff that was tested in the real world, but also stuff that was written using what I preach, which is to say I tell a lot of stories as you know, you read the book. Uh, I, when I discussed metaphors, I use metaphors when I have a whole chapter on short words. Uh, I try to use shorter words.
Here’s the deal. I don’t know how many books you’re, I don’t know how many copies of your book you’ve sold. Do you haven’t sold enough yet? Because that book is so good. I’ve tabbed it. I’ve highlighted, I’ve underlined it. And you, you mentioned the word preach. And so wes Carter, you rep your, your law firm, winters and king. You guys represent some of the top literary minds in the world of Christian authorship. You guys represent to Craig, Rochelle, td Jakes, those kind of people. And Craig Rochelle, we were blessed to have him on the show and he wrote a book called hope in the dark, which is one of the top selling books in America is, is his church. Uh, Joseph Life church is now where the most attended churches in America, West. What makes Craig Rochelle and your mind so sticky? Why do people come back? He’s, I mean everybody just loves his sermons because when I was reading Joseph’s Joseph’s book, where he’s teaching these five rules, I thought, man, Craig, Rochelle is, does so many of these rules in your mind, what makes Craig Rochelle such a source of wisdom and a sticky source of wisdom over where people come back to it over and over again?
Well, I think people think of communicators. I think a charisma a lot of time, but I think one of the things that are offered just mentioned, which was practical advice. You know, a lot of good people who are doing good in whether it’s the religious world or the book world or trying to communicate a message. They distill it down in a way where you can digest it and apply it. True. And that’s what people are hungry for. Like you said, they’re getting bombarded with content. They want something they can understand and use and apply that actually makes their life better.
Marshall, you work with business owners every day who are a concrete floor installers. They are, uh, they built decks. They build pools, they build a web sites, they’re entrepreneurs. Uh, some people install sets for churches, attorneys. I mean, you work with every kind of entrepreneurial. They’re surgeons, dentists, lawyers. Uh, could you want to get your, your, your, your, your question here for Joseph about this because there are so many people who struggle to explain in a succinct way what they do. They struggle to master these five rules that Joseph teaches in his book. What question would you have for Joseph Romm about communication on behalf of some of your clients out there? Yeah, so a lot of my clients that they’ll struggle with putting it in a succinct way, like you talked about in, they’ll use technical terms. Joseph, you just were talking about you having an entire chapter on shorter words so that it’s easier to understand, but then you actually write in that format. So when creating an elevator pitch, communicating what it is that you do as a business owner so that it’s easily interpreted, what would you say maybe are the top couple rules for creating like a short, brief elevator pitch communicating what you do as a business?
Oh absolutely. Well, you know, I, I, and that really was what I tried to do with, with rule number one, which was you create the simple rule for how to tell a compelling story. I think most people are catching on that. People aren’t, you know, convinced if when you bombard people with numbers and charts and figures, it just overwhelms them and it’s hard for them to keep track of it and it’s hard for them to remember. And just this year I’m Jeff Bezos, I’m not just in it’s 2018 newsletter to a shareholders. He says, we have band powerpoints at Amazon, and what we do at Amazon meetings is you have to prepare a five or six page narrative memo because people don’t learn from a bullet points. They learn from stories. So the job one, and this is if you’re doing a, a, a VC pitch, um, if you’re doing a, if you’re public speaking, you’re doing a job interview.
We’re trying to leave people with the story of why we’re a compelling and interesting person. And the, the interesting thing is that there is this simple secret to telling a viral story that’s used by Hollywood screenwriters and viral superstars like Oprah and it’s called the and but therefore trick. Sometimes it’s called the rule of replacing. That’s what Trey Parker who created South Park and uh, the book of Mormon, a labeled it, which is basically you write down, you look at whatever you were going to write a. your content could be a post, it could be a speech, write it out, go through circle all of the ends and try to replace them wherever possible with the word but or equivalents like the word yet because you’re trying to introduce the kind of conflict and narrative tension that we expect in our best stories and you also replace and with therefore or equivalents like the word, so to introduce the resolution of that conflict and tension and that is the three part structure of stories that have go back to the stories of the Bible for thousands of years ago to today.
That is the simple structure and it may seem hard to believe that that simple idea could be so powerful, but almost every viral speech in English, in English and in many other languages, but I focused on English in the book, make use of this structure and these specific words, you know, and in the book how to go viral and reach billions. I discussed a whole bunch of speeches I took. I, I look at a speech. Oprah gave a. That went viral earlier this year at the Golden Globes. I talk about the sermon on them out by Jesus, a speech that remarkably has a in it. I’m about a hundred. Uh, it has, excuse me, 98 and 29 buckets and 13. Therefore it’s, I went through and I counted. And that is a sign of a good speech. And so this is, this is a rule that if you, if you follow this rule regularly, you will find your speeches become more interesting.
The content, whether it’s a facebook post, whether it’s twitter, a tweet, uh, you name it, and it can even be the subject line to an email. We’re trying to create a story and a hawk. This, the biggest mistake people are making is they’re giving speeches or elevator pitches that are like this, and I did this and I did this and I did this and I did this. You want, we’re, we’re trying to sell people, but we can solve a problem they’ve had. And the problem is the, but you’re doing this, you, you’re trying to write a good speech, but you realize that you don’t know how to be better than 95 percent of all the other speeches out there. So you study speech writing and the greatest speeches of all time and you see what goes viral online and then you condense it to a simple rule.
And that is, you know, the essence of what we’re trying to do and you all I can tell you is that a, I bought my own kindle a just so I could see on Amazon because if you, the, the kindle tells you what are the most highlighted passages, and I can tell you chapter to the book on the secrets of viral storytelling is by far the most highlighted section of the book. And the, the, the simple description I gave you of the rule of replacing is the single most highlighted a line in the entire book.
You are so good at breaking down the specific mechanics of your rules outlined in your book that I got stuck on chapter one for about two days. Just reading it, highlighting it, chip, you see what I did a book books. It’s unethical. He destroys them. It’s dog ear them. I tagged them. I post it, note them my marinade on staple stuff to the table, something. I look up the words. What do they mean? Now rule number two was about figures of speech. I know West has some good questions for you on this, but figures of speech you wrote here, use the most unforgettable figures of speech, especially repetition, irony and metaphor used the most unforgettable figures of speech, especially repetition, irony and metaphors. So as an example, I listened to td jakes every morning. They’re just every morning I listen to td jakes and he has a sermon called.
Nothing is as powerful as the change to mind. Nothing is as powerful as a changed mind. Marshall, you’ve listened to that. Oh yeah, I’ve listened to that. I mean, I’m not kidding. I’ve probably listened to this 30 times, maybe 40 times. I’m just. I’m just stuck on it right now. And what stuck me on as I was preparing for this interview, you said figure of speech rule number. He said, rule number two, figures of speech used the most unforgettable figures of speech, especially repetition, irony, and metaphor, and td jakes taps into all of that irony, metaphor and repetition. I mean, there’s no way possible you could watch one of his sermons and not know what he’s talking about. Can you talk to us about power
of repetition? Irony in metaphor and figures of speech? Absolutely. Well, the first thing to know, uh, and uh, is that, where did the figures of speech come from? This is, this is, uh, you know, the figures of speech are the elements of rhetoric and rhetoric is the art of persuasive speech that was first developed 25 centuries ago. It was codafide 25 centuries ago by the ancient Greeks and the Romans and, and Aristotle wrote it. He wrote the first book on rhetoric than the Roman people, like Cicero used it for debating in the Senate and that sort of things. And then it was raised to a high art in the Elizabethan era. Uh, and that was all that was taught. That’s what you study. That was why it was called grammar school. You studied Latin grammar so you could study the Latin poets and learn the figures of speech and that’s why the two most quoted works of writing of all time.
The most memorable collections of stories are the King James Bible and the works of Shakespeare because the authors of the King James Bible, they were taught rhetoric year after year and they learned the figures of speech. And, uh, the thing about the figures of speech is there actually the memory tricks used by the ancient bards who were the first people who had to generate viral content. They had to be clicking and sticky. They would walk into a town, right? And they would start singing some long epic poem. And if it was interesting, people would leave the money, give them food, maybe give them shelter. And if they lost people’s attention, they were stuck, you know, sleeping in a barn or something like that with the horses. So, um, those stories that got passed down through thousands of years of the development of language were the first things that went viral. And the.
I want to ask you this question real quick here. Joseph. You were an mit professor and if, and correct me if I’m wrong, you graduated from mit or you’re a physicist and I believe in your book and again I went, I took so many notes and if I’m missing, if I’m getting some of it wrong, you tell me, but I feel like you said it took you about 20 years to learn these rules. Am I. Am I correct? Yeah. Well look, the thing is they’re not taught. They used to be taught a lot and they’re still taught some in England, but as we’ve moved towards this idea that people are persuaded by facts and numbers and charts, you know, the higher you go up in education, the more you’re discouraged from telling stories and the more you’re in and being figurative and the more your folk, you’re taught to be literal and numerical and quantitative.
So yes, I got this nine years of physics education and it took me. It took me 10 years to figure out the way I should be communicating and then it took me many years to make it a habit to actually do a lot of storytelling in my speaking, in my writing. It’s why I write out all my speeches. I’m just because to make it a force of habit and it’s why I’m always looking for that key metaphor. Um, and, and trying to use it over and over again, trying to repeat that metaphor because I know that if I have a killer metaphor, um, uh, it is going to stick in people’s minds.
I wanted to ask wes this because yes, you are an attorney. I am. And Joseph is a physicist. Both of you are what I would call white collar professionals, highly educated. You are professionals and at winters and king you have certain trial attorneys who really have a great record. They pretty much don’t lose a when they are representing a case. I mean, if they do lose it, too rare. I mean these guys are, are very successfully. We do our best. You do your best
and you know, it’s funny you say that because when I’m listening to Joseph talk that’s in, this is one of the first things I thought. I mean, I’ve got a few young attorneys on staff that it sounds like they need to read this. Listen, listen up. And you know, attorneys come out of law school using gigantic words they learned, um, and like you’re talking about facts and charts and statistics and whether you’re communicating to a client or communicating to a jury,
the Mr King is a great communicator.
Oh yeah. And in some of the best trial attorneys I’ve ever seen take on an all shucks personality when they communicate to a jury, not that they’re not intelligent men or women, but they’re trying to tell a story. They’re trying to relate to the jury, to their audience, to their clients. So powerful because otherwise if you can’t relate your, your message is going to get lost. Do they disconnect? They turn off. And so I think this is a very powerful message for anybody in the legal field on how to communicate
because it rule number three, Joseph, he wrote about, you said you want to trigger one of the three activating emotions that trigger content sharing. So if West has an attorney who tells somebody a hundred percent honest truth, facts, but no one’s listening, it doesn’t work. So you’ve got to convey the emotion and the facts. It’s both. It’s not just the facts, not just the emotion, it’s both. Joseph, can you talk to us about these three activating emotions? Rule number three of your book?
Sure. Well, if you, if you, uh, people uh, have studied, um, uh, what goes viral online, and there were the have been studied for instance, of let’s look. Someone looked at over a period of two years, all of the headlines of the New York Times that made the most emailed list. I wanted to share them. And they realize that those headlines tended to trigger one of three emotions, which they called the three a’s, which is to say anger anxiety or a w, e by anger. You might think outrage and I think we can all agree, we, we, we get sent a lot of content, uh, by people that outraged them. Can you believe that? So can you believe it? Can you believe? Can you believe in it? Doesn’t have to be a politician. Obviously we live in an age where we’re very polarized and we get a lot of those, but it can also be, can you believe Kim Carr Dashi and did this or Gwyneth paltrow as goop is selling this.
I’m so outrage. Anger that is a, you know, a classic one and it’s probably one of the most common that you see today. Another is anxiety. So you get the classic headline. There are three food here. You know, there are three common foods that you shouldn’t be eating. Oh yeah. Or here are five things you’re doing wrong in a job interview and now you’re like, what? I’m doing something wrong. So I’m trying to make you know that you’re, you’re trying to make someone anxious. This is, you could argue one of the main goals of mainstream advertising. You are missing something. You know, you have restless leg syndrome, maybe you didn’t know it and maybe you didn’t know there was a cure for it. And then the third is our, which is the amazing stuff. Like here’s a cat that plays the piano, or you know, here’s this guy who was climbing up El Kepi Tan without any equipment at all.
You doing a free hand climb up, one of the most dangerous, you know, rock in the entire world. But if like I’m a thing. So when we see stuff that really amazes us, we like to share it. And, and by sharing these things, of course we’re, we’re doing the classic thing that humans want to do, which is established. We are in the same tribe because I’ve sent you something that we’re going to have a shared emotion over and that proves that, you know, we’re in this similar try but I’m going to get some social credit. So ultimately a lot of communications is about, I’m like, you, I like the things you like and I disliked the things that you dislike. And that’s how we establish who’s in our tribe and who we trust.
If you’re out there and you ever post anything for business on social media or do you ever have to deliver a presentation you ever have to communicate to a board or to a team? You want to buy a copy of how to go viral and reach millions and just keep it on your desk is sort of reference material and in your book you talk about rule number four, memorable elements, rule number five, testing. But for sake of time, I want to get into the trump tastic portion of today’s interview. Yeah, I caught me. Trump tastic part of today’s interview. Now I am misunderstanding something in your book, please correct me. Um, but you have set in your book you talked about, you pointed out that Donald Trump has two super moves to super moves that he likes to use. He likes to use his, he likes to use these moves. So let’s hear him move. Number one is up a post office, a office move. Number two is this thing called hyperbole. Hypothesis means pretended. Denial, and hyperbole means a basically exaggeration. Can you talk to us about apotheosis exaggeration? Am I getting it wrong? Apotheosis and hyperbole. Those are donald trump’s president. Trump’s two favorite moves. Am I getting that wrong? No, I,
that’s correct. I, you know, I, those I think are the two of the, of the classic figures of speech. Those are his two favorite. Now there’s the general repetition and I think we’re all can agree that Donald Trump is really good at repeating his messages over and over again and I, I would never want to underestimate the importance of his use of repetition and nor has his use short words that you remember, may remember the short word chapter. Uh, you know, I say, well, people made fun of him because he was using like a fourth grade vocabulary. Well, in fact, a lot of people would be better off communicating using the regular language for regular people rather than the Highfalutin jargon that nobody connects to. Now hyperbole is basically the classic, um, exaggeration and one of the things he says, he, he in the art of the deal, which he wrote in the eighties, he actually says,
I own that book.
He, he, he says, look, I’ll just quote it, the final key to the way I promote his bravado, I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. So I think we all, you know, Trump is always talking about things as this is the biggest, this is the most important and it’s huge and, and the biggest crowds and it’s Cetera, et cetera. And you know, he’s, he’s been a salesperson for, for the 30 years and this is his primary a go-to move at a, at sales. And one of the things about hyperbole as it turns out, Aristotle talks about this. Hyperbole happens to be the figure of speech that angry people use. So, um, and again, I’m not, you know, in the book I kind of, you know, I have a political bent.
Oh, you don’t, I couldn’t
tell that at all in the book, but one of my points in the book is it doesn’t matter whether you like him or dislike him. There are things to be learned from him because he certainly knows how to make content go viral and the point is that the, the, the, the, the, the emotion that you can trigger by making exaggerated claims like I’m going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it is not the people mistake. The biggest mistake people made in dealing with that. It’s thinking all I have to do is disprove that factually. Whereas the point of the statement is to show that I share your anger and therefore we’re in the same tribe and the reality of whether I can do it or not is totally different. It’s so much less important than the fact that I am showing you. I share an emotion about a certain subject.
What I’d like to do is I’m going to queue up some dump trump audio and I would like for you to break it down and tell us why it gets stuck in the cranium of people because if people listen, and this is the thing Donald Trump says, I’m going to build a huge, well, huge, huge, yeah, and I’m going to have and I’m going to have Mexico pay for it, but he waited long enough to like, and I’m going to have Mexico pay for it and he had added. The timing was impeccable. So I’m going to keep the audio here. Uh, Joseph. And I’d like for you to break down for the listeners why it works. Does that sound fair? Sure. Absolutely. Look it. Here we go. Let me queue it up. Let me get it. Let me get.
Hillary Clinton is going to be a horrible president. Every time I think about Trump, like, hey, when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
Donald Trump, he says, Hillary Clinton’s going to be a terrible president. Why? When he says that he doesn’t say she’ll be an okay president. She’ll be a terrible president. Why does that connect with voters, whether you like her or not? Why did it get stuck in people’s heads?
Well, the, the thing I think that you’ll agree that people really stuck in their heads was when you think of Hillary, you think of the word crooked, right? Crooked Hillary and, and that, a lot of that is repetition. The thing about terrible is a strong word. It’s not one of those bland, you know, uh, I’m going to be a better president than this person, or I’m more qualified, or I liked this person, but I think my policies are better. It’s a guy who’s just bluntly saying what he thinks. And so that bluntness coupled with the repetition, it’s just very powerful particularly. And I think it’s important to say in the world of politics, which is so bland, a five, if you will, so filled with people. And it’s not on both sides. I mean, you know, where he was running against Jeb Bush and Jeb Bush was thinking, I’m going to run a traditional way and I’m going to talk about my policies and I’m going to do this. And this and then trump is like low energy and he just repeats that every single time. And now after a while, all you can do when you see jeb bushes, man, he’s low energy. He’s just a low key guy. Well, maybe actually without asking the question, is low key good for a president? Maybe. Maybe that’s not so bad. But the point is, this is, this is the kind of branding and that’s, you know, let’s call it what it is. He’s branding he brand. Okay.
I want to, I want to ask you this because you, I think if we were in, again, this is a show where we teach business to business owners and I’m just going to throw out an idea. I think if you and I were voting tomorrow, you and I would probably vote differently, but I respect your book and it is awesome. I mean your book is Great, but Hillary Clinton, who I suspect you might have voted for, maybe not, but when you, if for Hillary Clinton, can you talk to me about how she could have improved? Because it, whether you look at her is whether you like her politics or not, I don’t think anything that she ever said ever got stuck in the mind of anybody but Obama, when he said always got stuck in people’s minds and what trump said always got stuck in people’s minds. But when she said never seemed to resonate.
Yes. And as you know from, from reading the book, I, I think that she was a disastrously bad communicator. Um, she never tells stories and um, she never, uh, uh, uses what, what I would call figurative language. In fact, there was a joke running around or campaign. This is something that, that the politico said that, that there was a joke running around or campaign that she turned something. If you gave her something memorable in a speech, she would cross it out and make it more literal. And the joke was that, that if you gave her, um, if you see something, say something, she would turn it into a. If you see something alert the proper authorities. And you know, I. So I don’t have any difficulty being harsh about the entire communications. If I asked you to name like what are the first two or three things hillary would do if she were elected?
Well, you can’t tell me, but if I ask you what are the first two or three things Donald trump’s going to do when he was elected, you know, because it was simple and he repeated it and, and, and he also look, he loved figurative language, right? One of his, the, the classic expressions which, which was actually something tested by a big data company two years earlier. This was Cambridge analytica had tested the phrase, drain the swap right now, drain the swamp. It’s a great phrase because I’m taking the most complicated thing in the world, which is the bureaucracy and the meth that is Washington dc that the people have been trying to solve that problem and describe and deal with it for years and instead of giving you a whole book-length thing, I’m just saying I’m going to drain the swamp and I’m instant, boom, you’ve got a visual image in your head. DC is a swamp. Boom. I’m going to solve it by draining it and I don’t have to. It’s just like those three words, that one metaphor repeated dozens of times online and, and, and in his speeches that just, it can replace, I mean, a metaphor is literally worth a thousand words. It just replaces a whole other speech that Hillary might give on her 10 policies that she’s going to do.
I’m gonna read in rapid succession a different Donald Trump quotes. I’d like for you to break them down and why they got stuck in peoples minds. Okay. So I’m gonna read the first one here for you. He says, I was going to say dummy Bush. I won’t say it. I won’t say it. President Donald J dot trump. Why did that work?
Well, that is a prophetess. And, and as you can see some concise. I, I, uh, uh, this is a prophecy. This is the pretended denial. This was, uh, the, the Cicero used to use this in the Roman forum where he would say something like, I’m not here to talk about my opponents crimes or that it would be. So the way I can say what I want to say, but without ident directly connecting myself to. So instead of saying it, it makes it look like, oh, I’m above calling bullshit dummy, but of course I just called bullshit. So this is this, the classic, I think one of your people said the awe shucks manner, where, where I’m like, I’m, you know, I would never do anything like, like call Bush.
Well, okay, here’s another one. Here’s another one, and this one might deserve some cowbell here. So here we go. He says, I refuse to call Megan Kelly a bimbo because that would not be politically correct. President Donald J dot trump. Why does that work? Why does it work? Because it works. Why does it work?
So the, the underlying theory, social science has demonstrated this again and again, why does this work? Because the negative words are very weak word, like a, I won’t say, or I refuse. That’s weak compared to a memorable simple word like dummy or Bimbo. And, and there was a book actually written by George Lakoff, uh, uh, a linguist many years ago called don’t think of an elephant. And his point was, the negative has very little weight compared to the power of our own imagination and visual image of what an elephant is. So this pretended denial works because the negatives aren’t what people remember. They remember the, the, the powerful short word or metaphor.
Your book is with ridiculous amounts of actionable, a rhetoric training, figures of speech. It’s so good on and on. Page 25 of your book, I want Wes Carter to don’t want to get your take on this. And on page 25 of your book you write, if rhetoric sounds to you like a two edge sword or like the force in star wars where there is very much a dark side, you’re not alone. Plato and Aristotle actually agreed. They both believed rhetoric was dangerous in the wrong hands. That is needed to be tempered by virtue. The figures are powerfully inspirational and motivational, but they could be used to motivate the worst in people west. I’m sure you’ve gone to a court case and you’ve seen somebody who you know is representing a defendant who absolutely is guilty. I’m sure you’ve seen it. I know because of the laws, you can’t get into the details of it, but I’m sure you’ve seen where somebody is so guilty, but yet their attorney is so good at rhetoric and motivation and inspiration at communicating with me and you’re going, Whoa, this is going to be tough. If you have you ever in your entire political career, have you ever seen a situation where somebody representing somebody who is. There’s no possible way that they could be guilt the clean or innocent?
Oh yeah. But will be taken out of the criminal context because as a little bit different because everybody’s entitled to a defense. But in a civil context, yeah. You see people lie through their teeth all the time. I mean, make up stories that, you know, for a fact or false. Um, I mean, I, I’ve just had people live straight to my face, but the dangerous part is when you have a really effective communicator, say talking to a jury or talking to a judge, um, they are very skillful at maneuvering right around that, that muddy part and getting right back to where they want their narrative to be able. Or by using metaphors and these figures of speech we’re talking about to downplay the weaknesses of their case and then, you know, raise up the strengths of their case. And so I think no effective communicators, you know, the, I think that’s a great sane because they can use those tools for good and evil. I mean, you see some of the worst dictators in the history of the world. True or amazing communicators. Right? And so, you know, I think there are a lot of truth in this. Yeah.
And some of the greatest, you know, uh, you know, the inspirational people, Jesus, absolutely Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and, and, um, you know, just, I’ll make it a point quickly, which I explained at length in the book rhetoric, the fingers of speech were actually developed, codified to be used in trials because, uh, the, the Athens in trying to become more democratic, switched from trial by magistrate where there was someone objectively looking at the law to trial by jury. And those were juries of 500 people. Majority vote determine guilt or innocence. And there were no rules of evidence. Your opponent spoke for 30 minutes and you spoke for 30 minutes and if you had the money, you could hire someone to write that speech for you, and those were the first rhetoricians, the people who codify that, and I’ll give you one example of a modern attorney who is a master of rhetoric and his most famous line. If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit. Now. Now that line right Cochran Cochran, Johnnie Cochran that rhyme, if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit. It is such a brilliant line because it takes the visual image that the jurors thought of this thing not fitting and then it rhymes with we thing he wants, which is an acquittal.
Oh, when you can ride, it almost seems like it has to be true when you can rhyme. I mean that is hot when you’ve got a jury. Then sitting in deliberations, and this is rattling around in their head, you know, people bring it up in the jury room and it’s like you said, it gets stuck in their cranium where eventually you just can’t ignore. Right? Joseph, Here’s I’m, I do. I’m going in your book on page 26, you write something that at least half of our listeners are going to strongly agree with or strongly disagree with. This is where it gets kind of fun because it’s going to get stuck in their head. This is powerful, but you are giving facts here, so I’m going to tread lightly. Chop. Do you give me permission to tread lightly? Eggshells. Let’s do it because remember, he’s an mit physicist.
He knows his stuff. He’s been an advisor for James Cameron. Eyes had a lot of success. He knows his stuff. He’s quoting. He’s he’s fact-checking. I will tell you, Republican or Democrat, if you read his book, if you read his book, I promise you that you will learn how to become a more persuasive communicator, how to go viral and reach millions, but you said something on page 26 that made me stop. Pause, marinate. I got out of the bath tub. I go back into the bathroom to get you. I like to read in the bath. That’s what I do. So that’s what he says. He says, trump is nothing if not a marketing and branding genius. He is arguably nothing but a marketing and branding genius since he managed to sell enough Americans on the notion that he was somehow a great businessman and deal maker when he is neither. After all, trump had six bankruptcy’s managed to lose money running casinos last 916 million in 1995 on the year. We have some of his tax returns. That right there. My friend is like, Woo, I read that and I’m going, Joseph, Joseph Romm. I got to get this guy back on the show. I’m going to break this down. Can you please explain the statement? Because it is profound. Trump is nothing if not a marketing and branding genius. He is arguably
nothing but a marketing and branding genius. Well, it’s a rhetorical phrase. Obviously I’m taking, I’m taking the phrase, uh, which has put this expression when we say some, you know, trump is nothing if not a, a and then flipping it with the word. But, uh, so it will be memorable. I think it’s, you know, uh, you know, where I’m coming from. Uh, the fact is that, uh, he has been able to, uh, sell himself time and time again and sell what he’s doing and we’re not here to argue whether we believe, you know, whether were pro trump or anti trump. Uh, the point is what he, what he has been able to sell people I think is, is, uh, in my mind and you know, quite separate from what he actually achieved. But that’s the point. The point is that if I’m really, really good with words, uh, if I really know how to tell a story, if I know how to use the figures of speech, then I’m going to be so good at simply repeating things over and over again and creating this consistent story that you’re going to believe my version of events.
And so that he’s just, you know, uh, been very effective at that. I would, I would say the one thing other than that I tell people as to why he’s so good at this bit about storytelling is for 10 years the man ran a reality show that started out very popular. And like many reality shows it became less popular. But nonetheless, a lot of people watched it for 10 years. What are you doing? What are reality shows? Reality shows are not reality, right? There are all these little stories that are being created to keep the viewers interest. And um, what you learned doing a reality show because you’ve got the nightly ratings and you’re doing focus groups is which stories grab people’s interests. Oh look, people like Omarosa, but kinda like the villain who has a good charismatic personality. Here’s another character. Maybe people are losing interest in them.
What do we have to do? Does he have to overturn a table or started romance? But all, when you’re running reality show for 10 years, you are learning what the stories are that, that interests people that draw people in. And so it’s not surprising after 10 years, he’s good at that. He is good at creating these little stories, these little vignettes bring in, you know, bring in Kanye West. He doesn’t care what happens that day. He’s got the new story, Kanye West and Donald Trump and, and he’s quite, you know, and that’s how we, now you may say, or you may not say, some people might say, well, that’s, that’s great if you’re a real estate salesman or a TV producer, maybe it’s not so great if you’re running the world’s most powerful nation. But the point is this is what he’s doing. This is what he’s good at. And uh, for better or worse, I, you know, I think it’s important for people to understand it.
Joseph, I want to give you a notable quotable from the Kanye West and Donald trump exchange. Kanye West was educating president trump in America. He says, we need to buy lands and not brands. Nice. And it rhymed. It was hot. It was notable. Quotable. It worked. Now, Marshall Morris, I’m going to have you unpack this. Joseph Romm quote from page 30 because you and my mind are a very effective consultant now for clients, but you and Joseph, you, you could have been an mit physicist in my mind. You do very well in school. You communicate actual facts. You like to tell people how it is, and on page 30 of Joseph’s book, he writes, my mistake was to start with figures rather than stories I didn’t realize until much later when I was researching the book that modern neurological studies show that only compelling narratives capture the attention of the entire audience and keep their entire brain engrossed.
Marshall, how have you learned that as a speaker now and as a consultant? I mean, how, how has that affected your learning that you have to give them only a fact, but you have to give a quote in a story and an accident of why? Why, why? How has that changed the game for you learning that you just can’t give people facts? Well, there’s a couple things about that is that when you communicate with a fact, uh, in a statistic, they will rationalize that that speaks to the analytical part of the brain. There’s a, there’s a beautiful book called pitch anything by Oren Klaff. If you read a Joseph, you know, like, oh my gosh, nice. Okay. So it’s an awesome book. And in the book he breaks down the biological parts of the brain. And he talks about needing to speak to the crocodile, the most primitive part of the brain, which is responsible for decision making, the Amygdala, and this is responsible for fight or flight because that is the, it’s the do not pass, go part of the brain before you can even get to the rationalization is stupid margin. And so if you don’t, if you’re speaking directly to the analytical part of the brain, you’re never going to get a decision or be able to influence and persuade people. And so maybe Joseph, you can speak on it on your hot take on this and actually speaking to a different part of the brain, uh, when you’re doing public speaking or speaking to an audience as well.
Well, look, I, you know, like I said, I, I was trained to get a phd in physics where it’s all facts and numbers and uh, you know, when I’ve been it, you know, as I blogged I realized more and more than that, that the stuff that was getting clicked on and, and the stuff that was getting shared is the stuff that is stimulating emotions. That story based that has an interesting person and um, yeah, I, I, I, uh, it took a lot of effort beyond just realizing it’s why I wrote the book because there’s one thing, someone to tell you this, but then to actually unlearn the stuff that’s deeply ingrained after 10 years of higher education and, and get to this point where you realize actually there is this communicator that I really love who summed it up in four words, which is numbers numb and stories sell.
And those four words, uh, I just, I just love those words. I use them in speeches and in plus the course numbers numb and stories sell has alliteration and it’s got. I mean, it’s a beautifully rhetorical phrase. So yeah, it’s, it’s, um, exactly as you say, because most people listening to you when you speak, they can’t adjudicate your facts, right? If you’re talking about this company you’re going to build, right? You’re talking about an imaginary thing anyway. Maybe someone can go through the books, but most people aren’t going to do that. So what you’re going to be selling is, hey, I have this great idea. I’m creating a shared vision narrative that you want to be part of and we’re going to be in this together. You’re going to invest in me and together we’re gonna, you know, so I’m sure that’s always would have speakers trying to do. I’m part of the group, right. And I have a problem and you can believe me because I went through this process of dealing with the same problem you dealt with and now I’ve figured out the solution and um, you know, it’s, it’s, uh, you know, you’ve read the books so you know that even though it, it packs a lot of content. It’s a very readable book.
Yeah. You, you wrote the book in a way where I, and I don’t mean to. This is not a backhanded compliment. You would not know that an MIT professor wrote the book. It doesn’t come across as real. On chapter two, we are talking about a plethora of ideas that will help to stimulate the cranium. And it’s more, it’s very readable. It’s a page-turner, but it’s. I wouldn’t say it’s a reference book for anybody who speaks, who communicates. It’s a really powerful book, how to go viral and reach millions on chuck. Mr West Carter on Mr Marshall Morris. I’m going to give you guys an opportunity to ask Mr Joseph Romm rapid fire our final three questions. We wanna respect Joseph time here. He has to get back to changing the world here because he is according to rolling stone. One of the 100 people who is changing America the most at this point here. Chip. So what is your hot take your hot question for Joseph Romm on the rapid-fire addition here of the thrive time show. Okay. We’re going to call it closet rapid because I want to point something out real quick as well. We can take this whole clicky and sticky concept
and and kind of put that to your entire business. If you think about it this way, clicky would be what? The marketing, branding, advertising. The way you stand out of the crowd. The sticky is the overdelivering part that we talk about all the time. When to come back. People want to come back, people want to refer you. And so, Joseph, my question for you is on that clicky side, we have to help people come up with an offer or an advertisement all the time. Is there like a length for a headline or an advertisement and offered like an actual word count that is best or that you shouldn’t exceed when you’re trying to communicate what that is?
Well, I talk in the book a lot about headlines and, and I say the single biggest mistake people make is they don’t focus enough on that headline pitch could be the headline of an ad. Could be the subject line of an email. That line is the line that is going to determine what, what, uh, um, whether people pay attention to the rest of it or in the case of an advertisement, whether they bother reading it. And I actually quote David Ogleby, you know, the father of advertising saying on the average five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy, right? And, and a change of headline can make a difference of 10 to one in sales. I never write fewer than 16 headlines for single advertisement and he says the most important word in advertising is testing. So that’s just the key point is you, you people spend so much time on their ad copy or the long thing you, if you don’t get people’s attention, it, none of that matters.
So you need the pithy thing. How long should it be? I would say, you know, those original tweets of 140 characters, they were 140 characters for a reason. That’s about as much as someone can remember. You know, we on my headlines, we test multiple headlines that day. So I get the instant feedback of which words work words don’t we don’t ever go beyond 100 characters and I can tell you that literally from just the constant a headline testing that we do every day, you have to grab people in the first few words and a, and I talked to this guy, uh, the, the former 60 minutes guy who does our videos and, and on the years of living dangerously facebook page, we had 85 million views of our videos just in July, which is a run rate of a billion. So these guys know what you’re doing. And I said, what’s the most important thing?
And he says, the most important thing is I have to grab people in those first seven seconds. Otherwise, boom, they got a million other videos they could be watching. So I need a headline and I need to show it on the video because what 70 percent of our videos are watched with the sound off. So it’s the same in every business. I got to figure out instantly I got to show you. I have an interesting story to sell to tell you. I have something I’m going to stimulate an emotion that you’d like or I am going to solve a problem that you have.
Okay. West card will you are one of the top attorneys in, in Tulsa, one of the top in the region. I know you can’t say that you’re the best. I could brag on you, but we can’t say officially that you’re, you’re the best, but you, your firm represents really some huge clients out there and you get a chance to meet with some very wise people. Uh, what question would you have for Joseph Romm? Who’s an MIT physicist? He’s a consultant for James Cameron’s movies. I mean, what is a question you’d have for him?
Well, one of the things that stuck out for me, Joseph was, you know, was pretty much. I work with a lot of charities, secular, religious, just a lot of nonprofits and they’re always trying to raise money. And so when you talk about triggering the three emotions, um, you know, it seems to me anger and anxiety are probably the easier ones to stoke. But I was just curious. All, I mean, is that one harder to pull it off or do you see as you know, are any three of those more powerful, more long-lasting in your opinion?
Well, I think I, I tend to think of all as, as, as shorter. Uh, I, I’m, I’m a cause I’m like amazed that I can get someone in, you know, I can grab somebody with like this amazing thing and maybe if I’m a chair, you know, if I’m an environmental charity, I have a picture of a beautiful picture of nature, a couple of panda and a panda baby. It’s like, but I, once I got them, I still need to have that compelling story and I say to charities that you have to think of marketing the same way a business does because the comp, your people have so many opportunities these days to give away their money. I mean, right you, you can crowd. So there’s like so much crowdsourcing crowdfunding. It’s very competitive so it’s very competitive. So I can’t just assume, hey, I’m feeding poor people. I’m a, people are going to give to me. I’m still competing with other things people can be doing with either their time or their money, which means yes, they still need their brand, they’re still gonna need that story that pulls people in and you know, in this case the story may not be about how I’m going to solve a problem for you. It’s how I’m going to solve a problem for some group that you care about. Gotcha.
So the, uh, the beautiful picture of nature may not last as long as the picture of the polar bear sliding off the melting ice cap. I mean, do you think the anger and the anxiety, those motions stick with people a little bit longer?
Yeah, I mean, you, you, you’ve seen the pictures of, you know, you’ll often see the picture of the starving kid in Africa. I don’t want to be too, you know, stereotype, but a lot, a lot of those ads, you know, you can, you, you know, you can feed this kid for a year or you can turn this page type of thing. Gotcha. You know, that’s rhetorical and it’s emotionally powerful and that’s really a combination if you will, of outrage and anxiety, right? You should be outraged that there are still kids starving to death in this day and age, but if you ignore them, like, are you going to feel bad about that? Marshall, I want to ask you this because you work with so many small business owners. I mean you work with real people that unreal companies and Joseph’s talking about today, um, might feel in certain ways almost an applicable if, if the small business owner doesn’t understand the art of advertising or marketing, they’ve never tried to write pithy ads.
Ads that get stuck in people’s hands that are tried to, to write with persuasive language. They’ve never done advertising because it’s always been word of mouth for them. What question would you have for, for Joseph Romm here as we wrap up today’s show? That’s exactly. It is a Joseph. What would you tell an entrepreneur or business owner who is thinking to themselves, oh my gosh, this is Joseph Romm. He, he’s such a great writer. He’s using all of these figures of speech so well and it seems to be coming so easy to them. I can, I, I don’t think I could do that. What advice would you say to somebody who’s looking to get started or maybe isn’t satisfied with what they’re coming up with a, would you encourage them to just go ahead and just get something going, uh, to improve their, uh, their message or their communication or, or what advice would you have for a business owner in that position?
Sure. And, and look, I, I really think that, that it is critical that your small and medium-size businesses do this. And then, one of the points of the book is that because of the revolution in a digital media, the Internet, social media, you couldn’t know back in David Ogilvy’s day five, 50 years ago, in order to test his message, he had to spend millions of dollars, right? Taking different ads in different magazines or on different, you know, different TV commercials. But now you can do ab testing on facebook, right? You can pick ad words on Google, you can pick them on Amazon. I have, I have keyword search, uh, on Amazon, Amazon, Amazon’s become the number three sorts of advertising revenue and um, and, and there was just an article out last week that said half the people, half of the business is putting money on google. We’re going to shift over to Amazon because Amazon is selling half of all e-commerce products.
So the point is obviously the number one thing people should do is get how to go viral and reach millions obviously. But the second thing they got to do is simply start it. It, it’s, it’s what I did. I mean, yeah, I’m, I’m good at it now, but I’ve been, you know, I spent years and years studying it and then years and years practicing it. But the point of, you know, you know, yes, I’m a physicist, but that has simply allowed me as someone who wasn’t born a great at doing this to be able to learn and figure out, you know, some of these secrets and explain them, but anybody can use them. And I would just say pick one or two, you know, it is so easy. Go through your copy. And, and if you got words that are longer than three syllables, two syllables, try to replace them with the shorter pithier, more visceral words, um, and, and find that metaphor for your product or your business or your service and just work with that.
And then you got to start doing, you know, even the small business can afford to advertise on Amazon or, or a facebook. So do some ad testing, do some simple ad testing, run two different ads on Facebook and see which ones get the higher clickthrough rate. Uh, people do it with their email subject lines. You know, if you have a list of 10,000 names that you email out to, a classic thing people do is you come up with two different subject lines. You send the first one to 10 percent of your people the second you know. So if you have 10,000 email lists, I’m going to send one email to a thousand and the second email to another thousand, whichever one gets the highest open rate, that’s what I’m going to use for the remaining 8,000. Very simple technique. I can assure you your competitors if you’re not doing it, your competitors are doing all the stuff that I’ve described here.
Joseph, on December seventh and eighth, we were having the thrive time show workshop right here in Tulsa and we have a Michael Levine, my pr consultant who represents Michael Jackson and Nike and Pizza Hut, and he’s made a poor choice, chuck, and he’s decided to represent me and I don’t know. Have you ever been to Tulsa there? Joseph? Favorite? Have you ever been to Tulsa?
Uh, I have been to a couple of cities in Oklahoma. I can’t. I think it might’ve been telus. I worked for the Department of Energy Five, you know, 20 years ago. And I did a lot of going around the country.
Oh, you’ve been down to South America, you’ve been to the Amazon, you’ve been to Europe, you’re that. You’re a man of the world. And so should you find yourself in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we’d love to. Oh yeah. Harass you, my friend. I appreciate you for coming on the show twice. I mean, you are honestly a source of wisdom. Your book, how to go viral and reach millions persuasion secrets from social media superstars, Jesus Shakespeare, Oprah, and even Donald Trump is fascinating and a real, a reference guide for anybody out there who wants to take their communication skills to the next level. Uh, again, thank you for being on the show. We like to end every show with a boom here. So Joseph, are you prepared to bring the boom? I’m prepared to bring the. I’m also prepared to add if you read the book or read it and liked it, please go to Amazon and write a nice review.
I agree. Leave a review. Come on people. It just takes you 30 seconds, 45 seconds. I’m not gonna. Say do you sound good? Hypothesis, hypothesis. I’m not going to say you’re a lazy person. If you bought the book and you haven’t left a review, but I am going to say some people would say you would be a lazy, but other people would. And I’m going to say no, no, no. I want to agree with. I would never say such a thing, but other people would say, but I wouldn’t go that far tonight. Pretend denial. Thank you. We learned a little bit and here we go.
Great. 10 of the world’s best business workshop led by America’s number one business coach for free by subscribing on itunes and leaving us an objective review. Claim your tickets by emailing us proof that you did it and your contact information to info at thrive time. Show.com.