Five Stars: A book review by Bob Morris

Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great
Carmine Gallo
St. Martin’s Press (June 2018)

How to master the ancient art of persuasion by combining words and ideas to move people to high-impact action

I have read and reviewed all of Carmine Gallo’s previously published books. Each is a bestseller and a brilliant achievement. The quality of his cognitive skills are unsurpassed as is the eloquence of his lively writing style. I agree with him: “Mastering the ancient art of persuasion — combining words and ideas to love people to action — is no longer a ‘soft’ skill. It is the fundamental skill to get from good to great in the age of ideas.”

How so “ancient art”? Gallo refers to Aristotle’s classic work, Rhetoric, in which exposition, description, narration, and argumentation are identified — and explained — as the “four levels of discourse.” Each has a primary function: to explain with information, make vivid with compelling details, tell a story or explain a process, and convince with logic and/or evidence. At least three of them are usually involved in effective communication.

Description seems to be the most difficult to master. If you wonder why, try describing with figurative language what it feels like to have a foot asleep. The best description I know of that was provided by a third-grader in an elementary school in San Diego: “It feels like ginger ale.”

I wholly agree with Gallo that communication skills are anything but “soft,” especially at a time when AI plays an increasingly more important role in the global marketplace. He observes, “As machines get smarter, millions of jobs will be eliminated. It;s already happening and there’s no dispute about it. The good news according to the historians, scientists, and experts who I’ve interviewed is that AI opens up opportunities for more jobs to be created. As a LinkedIn report suggests, work is being transformed — not eliminated. We can thrive in an AI world if we reconsider the type of skills that set us apart. Skills like communication, long considered ‘soft skills,’ are the ones that will give humans an edge that no machine can replace. Skills like empathy, communication, innovation, and imagination are the ones that will help individuals get ahead in a data centric world.”

Near the end of his latest book, Carmine Gallo asserts that great communicators are made, not born; that neuroscientists have identified two techniques that will help people when the pressure is on: reappraisal and repetition; and that reappraisal simply means reframing the way you you think about yourself and the events in your life. These are key points.

Almost all of the information, insights, and counsel in this book can be invaluable when preparing to make a TED talk that — over time — may be seen by millions of people or when preparing to present a proposal for a major project to one’s supervisor. In both situations, “good enough” isn’t  because good is the enemy of great. Why settle for less than your very best now, especially when it can drive becoming even better?

Sprint — do not jog — to obtain a copy of this book as well as a copy of Carmine Gallo’s previously published classic, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience (2009).

Your call.

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