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My geeky heroes

Over the past few years I have been afforded many opportunities to speak publicly.  Some of my career options early on included "Rock Star" in the list.  Alas, I don't have any tattoos, a regenerative liver, or most importantly the ability to play a "cool" musical instrument.  So because of these limitations, I have been relegated to the less "cool" task of being a kitchen design, blogger, and geek.

Whenever I get the chance to be on stage I get a bit of an adrenaline rush.  Like the rush you get when you hear the bark of a powerful car engine after a perfect heel-toe shift.  There is something about being in front of people and having something interesting to say that really gives me a charge.  My goal whenever I speak is to not drone on and be boring, I always want to be memorable and fun.  My thought is that you could be saying the most useful facts in the world, but if you aren't memorable, those facts will be forgotten when people walk out of the auditorium, or head to the next booth.

Since I don't have a talent coach I sometimes scour the internet in search of good speakers, I watch them and try to learn from them.  There are some great speakers in our time, Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, and some say even our current president.  Rather then review the most famous speakers of all time, I have picked a few more recent, more tech related folks that I have discovered and would like share with you.

First up:

Steve Balmer:

I know what you are thinking:  You didn't pick Steve Jobs as the first one!!  I know Steve's great, and we are getting there.  Steve Ballmer has got to be one of my favorites.  At his core he is 100% passionate about what he does.  Every time you see him speak you can see that.  That being said, he certainly has a penchant for sticking his foot in his mouth and being a bit of a loose cannon.  His faults make me love watching him even more.  The guy sometimes borders on being a maniac!  See the videos below:

This is a clip of him handling a really tough question with his typical loud and boisterous behavior...
This is a developers conference where he flips out on stage. Can you see the passion here?

Bill Gates:

Ok, I will be honest, I think Bill Gates is not a good public speaker. He's not the worst, but there is just not a lot of energy from the guy when he is on stage. Brilliant guy no doubt, but I find the "Steve's" much more engaging. However, Mr. Gates did have one moment which really stuck out in my memory. Since his departure from Microsoft he's been spending his time fighting malaria. He did a speech for TED on malaria and was describing how it's transmitted through mosquitos. The speech itself was decent, but the part where he unleashed live mosquitos on the audience really sent his point home.  He didn't tell the audience until several minutes later that the mosquitoes were uninfected.

I can't embed this video for you, so you'll have to watch it on YouTube

Larry Ellison:

So this guy is NOT someone I look up to. Below is a highlight reel from him at a product launch. This is a HIGHLIGHT reel, so it's probably got the best stuff in it. I am sure Larry is a smart guy, and I am nerdy, but he just lost me right away.... You'll see, you only need to watch it for about 15 seconds.

Steve Jobs:

This guy is a master of presentation. He's such an engaging speaker. He inspires his employees, developers and makes his customers swoon for his products. How does he do this? I'll let someone else explain that at the end of the post. For now though, take a look at the original iPhone launch. Steve really knows how to launch a product.  I am not a live sports fan, and I always refer to Apple product launches as "my Super Bowl"

Now, lets step back and look at these four guys. They are all heads of HUGE tech companies. They by many measures are fabulously successful. Microsoft probably has way more resources then Apple. Why does everyone carry around and talk about their iPods and not a Zune? How about the new Windows Phone 7? The answer is below. If there is any video on this post that you watch in it's entirety, you must watch this one.  This video will literally change the way you think about marketing your product.

Simon Sinek: