I saw Charlie Rose speak with PR legend Howard Rubenstein at a media relations conference hosted by the Bulldog Reporter in San Franciso.
Charlie was fascinating. Really connected. I've seen a plethora, a bevy, a melange (I meant to say "a whole bunch" but got carried away) of good presenters and speakers.
Good Is Not Hard
All it takes to be a good presenter is hard work and practice. If you're not good - you have only one person to blame: yourself.
But to be great you have to be good - and connect. Connecting is pretty special; it's an art. Maybe a gift. A heavenly endowment. You have to be an expert, wise, personable, dynamic, charismatic, likable. And ... be able to tell your story with the ultimate in sophistication - simplicity.
The only speaker I've seen anywhere near rivaling Charlie Rose was Steve Wynn.
He was unbelievable. Excellent. Saw him speak at an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year ceremony in Palm Springs.
Steve Wynn is dynamic, inspirational, charismatic. Best I ever saw (how's that for good English?).
The Circles I Don't Run In
And, up until I saw Steve Wynn speak, I had very little knowledge of who he was or what he'd done (shows you the circles I don't run in).
He had that movie star kinda mystique.
But being a gazillionaire sorta lends itself to that.
And, this was funny - he had an incredible Dalai Lama impersonation.
Charlie Rose Was Not Like That
Two radically different styles. His talk was on "The Art of the Story: Finding the Heart of the Drama." He spoke about what he looked for in stories and guests for his show (he's done over 20,000 interviews). It essentially boiled down to this.
Interesting people actively engaged in the struggle of life. Coming in conflict with each other for love, for celebration, for tragedy, for death, for war, for all the possible range of emotions. Overcoming obstacles and adversity. Authentic. And ... being able to tell their story - the story of the human spirit.
How Does Charlie Rose Find the Heart of the Drama?
Insatiable curiosity. Research. Preparation. He genuinely cares. Question arcs - a series of questions that, depending on the way the guest responds, he follows up on. Not a set, linear-based question, answer, question format.
Takes You Back To When ...
Charlie takes guests back (through questions) to their moment of greatest emotion, challenge, victory, defeat, discovery. He wants them to recapture the emotion, the time, the life-altering experience. If he does that – they go to the heart of the drama. The essence of the story. The essence of life.
Who Were Some of His Favorite Interviews?
Charlie Rose has 17 years of recorded interviews. A lot to choose from. Barak Obama. John McCain. Bill Clinton. Henry Kissinger. Stephen Hawking. Nobel Laureates, Academicians, and on, and on.
I'll list some of the ones he mentioned as favorites and include the video interviews at the bottom of this article. Check out the questions he asks to get to the heart of the drama. Also- try to guess who was his favorite (answer at the end of the article.)
Ted Turner - A dream for any interviewer. Opinionated. Thinks big. Wants to talk. You don't have to engage him—just sits down and he's off and running.
Warren Buffet - Best for long-form interview. Captivating. Charming.
Bill Gates - Enormously interesting. Good as it gets. Brilliant.
Bruce Springsteen - One of the most memorable, talked about interviews ever. Rarely does interviews, but people still mention and ask him about the Springsteen interview even though it took place 10 years ago.
Sophia Loren - Talented. Beautiful. Enchanting. Beloved. Enduring. Engaged. Charming. The Alpha and Omega (Okay ... Charlie didn't say that. But I might have.)
William Buckley - Cerebral. Smart and interesting; he had done everything. Television, wrote a column, he could talk politics, philosophy, music, and he’d written 100 books. Loved him. What Made Charlie Rose So Special?
Almost holding up a sign saying, "LOOK AT ME!"
And what did Charlie Rose do when his talk was finished?
Get ushered out quickly behind the stage through some high-security, highfalutin steel curtain designed to protect him from the masses? (Some occasionally use the same word "masses," minus the "M," when referring to PR folks.)
DISCLAIMER: Yes, I do own a gorilla suit - but that's not me. I swear. An amazing coincidence. Two Steve's owning a gorilla suit. What are the odds?
No - he did something totally unexpected. Staggeringly unexpected. He walked down from the stage and chatted with the sponsors, then slowly walked right out ... through the masses.
"So what," you say?
Charlie actually looked directly at each table as he passed. If someone made eye contact he stopped and spoke to them. He engaged. Engaged in the struggle of life. Okay. Maybe that's a little jib jab, flim-flam flummery, a tad melodramatic. But you get my point.
Never in the History of Business ...
Have so many PR professionals been rendered completely speechless.
Now - What About the Charlie Rose has BO Headline?
Oh, BO -- that's simple.
I mentioned I've been to way too many conferences and speeches? One thing I've noticed over the last year is the overwhelming proliferation of BlackBerry's.
Procreating, propagating, multiplying sources of annoying digital noise and distraction. And ... they're always in use. Especially during presentations.
Sometimes surreptitiously. Sometimes not. Depends how bad the presentation or speaker is.
This conduct is rude. Reprehensible. Unprofessional. Bad business etiquette. Just plain disrespectful of the person presenting.
I try not to do it more than 5 times a week myself.
But - there are some really lame and boring presentations being foisted upon the business public in the perverse name of Thought Leadership, education and training.
So, in an altruistic act of thoughtless leadership, I created and developed, at much cost ($0), and time (11 beers worth), a guidepost —a barometer if you will— (patent not-pending, intellectual capital totally suspect) called the ...
The BO Scale
It doesn't mean what you think. An average presenter scores a BO rating of 5. Scale tops out at 10. Think golf here. Low score wins.
The Lazarus Phenomenon
The absolute worst presenter.
The bore-the-dead type presenter.
The ones capable of provoking a Lazarus type resur-insurrection (resurrection- insurrection) of peaceful souls, drifting on the rivers of the Lethe, to awake and beat you senseless with their own tombstones—rack up a BO-10 rating.
This BO scale was developed after reviewing and analyzing reams of evidence. But, it's not just theoretical. I got out in the real world and tested it extensively. I engaged. Sorta like Charlie Rose. Well, maybe not exactly. But I found the bottom. The bottom of the scale is a BO-10.
How do I know that?
The Worst Presentation on Earth
I purposely created the most God-awful presentation ever.
Specifically designed to be horrible. (That means I tried my best to do a great job—but failed miserably. On second thought, I was a pretty successful failure. That might be a better way to spin it.)
A Real Stinker
It was terrible. (I thought, really thought, it was elevating, inspirational and my ticket to fame and $$$$$ as a writer).
I got on stage.
And it came in at a BO-10.
What does that mean?
BO-10 means you're so bad, people throw their BlackBerrys at you to get you off the stage.
Do you know how expensive BlackBerrys are?
Means you're adequate.
Not good—but bearable.
Some people listen.
But about 50% of the people are shagging their BlackBerrys to do something else.
Anything but listen to you.
Having BO is the greatest of achievements these days.
BO means you have the audience enraptured.
You're great. You're humble. Regal.
Dynamic. Charismatic. Likable.
You're Real Real
Having BO means you've singularly conquered by thought, spirit and eloquent expression the mighty Mount Everest of human awareness and interest. KO'ed K-2. Toppled the Tower of Babel. Numbed the nattering Nimrods of negativity.
Because you're so good, that when you talk? Every damn BlackBerry in the place remains off.
BO= ALL BLACKBERRY'S OFF
Then, and only then, have you reached ... Charlie Rose status.
Who was Charlie Rose's favorite interview?
Sophia Loren of course.
Charlie said he uses Google Alerts to monitor what people write about him.
Charlie, if you see this, I sure would like to get a peak at that list of questions you use as an arc for your interviews. You held them up on a hand-written page but never got around to talking about them.
On To... Favorite Interviews?
Oh. Wait a minute. Hmm. Charlie Rose has never interviewed Steven Pressfield. Hey Charlie! He'd be a great guest for you - he's found the heart of the drama more than once. Plus - you guys are homeys. Went to high school together. Bet you didn't know that?
THE REAL END
Steve Kayser is an award-winning business writer featured in the June 2008 Amazon best-selling business book, "Tune In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs," a Marketing Best Practices case study by MarketingSherpa, A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing, Credibility Branding, Innovation Quarterly, B2B Marketing Trends, PRWEEK, "The New Rules of PR and Marketing"(2007 book by David Meerman Scott) and Faces of E-Content magazine. His writings have appeared in Corporate Finance Magazine, CEO Refresher, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business 2.0, and Fast Company Magazine, among others.
And he's won a few screenwriting awards including awards from; The Nicholl Fellowship Screenwriting Competition of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Project Greenlight and Writer's Digest.
In his spare time, Steve professionally models kilts for Un-Vanity, Non-GQ, Maxim-less and The Manly Kilt Wearing Man magazines
And an Aspiring Olympian?
Steve also headlines fund-raising events for his run at an Olympic Gold Medal in the kilt-wearing mechanical bull-riding competition to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2050.
Steve is founder of Squareballs Enterainment, a non-leading edge, next-to-lost generation, un-scalable (but eminently sellable), not seamlessly integrated (although certainly unseemly), robusted (once or twice at most), rigidly inflexible, world class (minus the "cl"), geometrically challenged (totally true), inchoate “Thoughtless Leadership” prepubescent publishing empire dedicated to stories that challenge the shape of the mind. At least his - or anyone else that got through that sentence and thinks they know what they thought was said.