HubSpot Toastmasters Blog

   

Mark Kilens: a Toastspot Case Study

Posted by Marc Gabriel Amigone

Mar 13, 2014, 10:09 AM

Mark Kilens shares his experience with Toastspot and how it has helped him grow his team.

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The Art of Persuasion

Posted by Marc Gabriel Amigone

Jan 27, 2014, 5:39 PM

Have you ever attempted to deliver a convincing argument? Were you passionate about the subject and 100% confident you knew you were absolutely right without a shadow of a doubt? If you have been down that road before, you might have discovered persuading someone else isn't the easiest thing to do

The art of persuasion is something that's been written about and philosophized around for centuries. People have analyzed and examined the ways in which people are compelled to act in numerous ways. The Greek philosopher Aristotle described three main forms of persuasive appeals: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. Each are vital to persuading a skeptical party to come over to your side.  I'll describe each appeal in more detail.

Ethos

Ethos (Greek for character) or ethical appeal speaks to the character or credibility of the speaker. The first thought that generally goes through people's heads when being sold on a new idea is "Who the hell is this guy?" When speaking persuasively, it's critically important to make clear several things:

  1. Who are you? - What authority, background knowledge, and experience qualifies you to provide relevant information on a given subject? Sometimes you're in the fortunate position of having quite a bit of experience and credibility. Sometimes you're not so lucky. In either case, transparency is always your best bet.
  1. What's your motivation? - What do you stand to gain from winning this debate? If your audience gets the slightest feeling they're being scammed or improperly sold for your gain (financial or otherwise) they're going to be much more skeptical of anything you might have to offer.
  1. How badly do you want to be believed? - Selling an idea really adamantly, can have the effect of making the audience feel put-off. Take note of how badly you want to convince someone of something before you set out to do so. If you push too hard, you'll have the unintended consequence of making your audience feel wary of what you're trying to convince them to believe.

Perhaps the best case study for Ethos in persuasive speaking is Barack Obama. Agree or disagree with his politics, he convinced America he was the best candidate to be our president in 2008 largely based off his credibility and backstory. He sought to elevate the political debate as an outsider. He had a uniquely American upbringing and identity, and he maintained a cool, calm demeanor throughout his entire campaign that suggested all he wanted to do was help America be the country he believed it could.

Logos

Logos (Greek for word) refers to the logic of an argument. What are the facts, and realities that back up your claims? Are they logical? Do they hold up to scrutiny? There are generally two ways to form a logical argument: inductive and deductive reasoning.

  1. Inductive reasoning - To induce a conclusion one has to provide examples of similar situations that lead the audience to see the same pattern occurring forming a proven conclusion. The scientific method relies on inductive reasoning. One provides a hypothesis and supports their claim with proven facts. Cut and dry as long as your audience doesn't have reason to doubt the facts you're presenting as being true.
  1. Deductive reasoning - Deductive reasoning relies more on encouraging your audience to make a connection on their own. In providing several scenarios or widely held beliefs and then drawing out a truth or argument from them, you can help your audience come to a conclusion by following your logic. Depending on your credibility, deductive reasoning can be highly effective when dealing with audiences who don't want to simply be told what to think.

Bringing back up the example of political discourse, most politicians rely on deductive reasoning more than inductive reasoning to convey their point. Using belief statements and value propositions, they draw out a conclusion that we should support their candidacy and adopt their programs. When was the last time you heard a politician lay out the factual basis for their argument at length in great detail? I would guess it's pretty easy to conjure up a memory of the last time you heard a politician cite their beliefs and values as a means to persuade you.

Pathos

Pathos (Greek for suffering or experience) is often associated with an arguments' emotional appeal, but a more apt summation might be appealing to an audience's sympathies or imagination. Instead of appealing to the logic or factual basis of an argument, pathos is appealing to their sense of shared experience or emotional perspective. Often times this turns into a narrative or anecdote inviting your audience to relate to the plight of your message.

There are several ways to introduce pathos into your argument:

  1. Speak passionately - Humans have evolved to mirror the emotions with which we're presented. If you want your audience to get excited, you have to get excited. If you want them to get angry, get angry.  People are also adept at seeing through forgery, so your emotions have to be real if they're to have the desired effect.
  1. Make it personal - Make sure there's an entry point for your audience to relate. Whether you're speaking about your own experience or someone else's, give the audience someone with which to sympathize. If they're personally invested in the emotions of your story, they'll be an easier sell for the logic of what you're trying to say.
  1. Don't overdo it or rely on emotion exclusively - Emotional appeal is important, but it's only one piece of the equation. To truly make a convincing argument emotions need to be involved, but emotional appeal with no logical or ethical appeal will be just that, emotions. A strong sense of conviction will get you people's attention, but make sure you know how to put that attention to good use.

Pathos is often considered the strongest of the three appeals. One common analogy for this phenomenon is the elephant and the rider. If a person is on top of an elephant steering it in one direction or another, it can only do so much to maintain control. If the elephant is motivated to go in one direction or another, the rider is mostly along for the ride. 

All three rhetorical styles are critical to a convincing argument, but depending on your audience one may be more important than another.  Presenting a scientific paper to a room full of biologists will be different than pitching a business proposal to a potential investor. Presenting an appealing argument in all three areas is the best way to win them over, but don't hesitate to place more emphasis on one or another if necessary.

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Niti Shah: a Toastspot Case Study

Posted by Marc Gabriel Amigone

Dec 3, 2013, 8:30 PM

Niti Shah shares her experience at Toastspot and how it has helped her career.

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How Scott Berkun Spent a Year Working Without Pants

Posted by Marc Gabriel Amigone

Oct 25, 2013, 10:51 AM

Scott Berkun, author of The Year Without Pants: Wordpress.com and The Future of Work, came to HubSpot's Cambridge office Wednesday afternoon to share his experience spending a year working for Wordpress.com, mostly without wearing pants. While he was wearing pants today, he gave an inspiring talk about workplace dynamics and challenged long-held conventions in the workplace as being outdated and ineffective. Based off his experience working for one of the most influential companies in the world, he made some pretty compelling arguments.

Scott Berkun Started his Career Fully-Clothed

Scott Berkun began his career at Microsoft in the 1990's. He left Microsoft in 2003 to pursue his career as an author and has enjoyed some success in that arena publishing six books and several articles in publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. His work mostly revolves around business and innovation. He told the group of HubSpot employees today that if he was going to write and speak about business all over the world, he wanted to go back to work to test his ideas to close any credibility gap that might have been starting to grow.

That's when Matt Wullenweg, the founder of Wordpress, approached Berkun about coming to work for him. Wordpress was on the verge of dramatically changing their internal corporate structure, introducting teams and managers to a pre-existing completely flat organization, and he wanted Berkun to lead one of those teams. Berkun accepted the offer with one condition: Mullenweg had to let Berkun write a book about his experience. That's how The Year Without Pants came to be.

Wordpress Powers 20% of the Internet

Wordpress has a massive market share of websites and blogs currently on the internet to the tune of 70 million sites. That's 20% of the internet or 1 in 5 sites. Wordpress is also a completely open source project. There's a clear distinction between Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org: one is a corporate entity founded by Mullenweg and Automatic Corp. in 2005, while the other is a free open source site started also by Mullenweg in 2003. That hybrid of corporate interest and open-source technology provides an interesting cultural makeup to the Wordpress work culture.

Berkun listed several unique things about the Wordpress working environment:

  • No one uses email
  • Employees work remotely - literally anywhere in the world as long as they can get work done
  • There are few rules
  • You are treated like an adult
  • No "managers"
  • New work releases daily
  • Open vacation policy

Stop for a second and think about which of these characteristics are consistent with the work environment at your company. Even at a progressive company culture like HubSpot, we can't claim all of them.

Most Americans Hate Their Job

Berkun cited two thought-provoking stats:

70% of American workers are not engaged about their job (according to a 2013 Gallup Poll)

20% of all professionals work remotely at least part-time (according to a 2012 ISPOS Reuters Poll)

If 70% of the workforce seems like a staggering amount of people to you who are mailing it in every day at the office, that's because it is. Berkun used examples like doctors, pilots, or air traffic controllers who could be "playing angry birds" on their phone while at work. What's even more interesting is Berkun thinks both numbers will increase as time goes on.

Berkun asked three compelling questions that he believes will solve our disengaged workforce issue:

  1. What work conventions serve no purpose? (9-5 work hours, dress code, hierarchy, meetings)
  2. Do we really need to use email? (Are their more effective ways to communicate?)
  3. Does remote/location really matter? (Does working from a centralized location make us less productive?)

Berkun holds up Wordpress as an example of a company that effectively answers all of those questions coming down on the unconvential side every time. He shared stories of coordinating team meetings with his co-workers in Australia, California and Ireland utilizing different means of communication technology such as Skype, blogs and IRC (a chat program with group chat functionalities).  

Clarity and Trust

At the end of the day, no matter what means of convention or tradition by which your organization operates, Berkun boils down the critical elements of any company's corporate makeup into two must-haves: Clarity and Trust. Without those two things, regardless of how much money they have at their disposal or how smart their employees are, if there is no unified vision behind which everyone can coalesce built on mutual respect and trust, no company can grow.

It's easy to see why Scott Berkun is a world-renouned speaker and writer. His ideas are compelling, and he delivers them very effectively and engagingly. His message was very well-timed at HubSpot, and I can only imagine how many other companies could stand to learn something from A Year Without Pants.  

If you'd like to hear more about Scott Berkun's experience at Wordpress or any of his other revolutionary ideas and perspectives on business, check out one of his books.

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Innovation and The Art of Laughter

Posted by Marc Gabriel Amigone

Aug 14, 2013, 8:30 AM

Sushil Bhatia with Marc Amigone and Steve Haase at Hubspot

Everyone loves to laugh.  There's nothing like it.  The sense of happiness, inspiration, light-heartedness, that feeling of nothing in the world getting you down.  It has a transformational effect on our outlook emotionally, mentally, physically, and spirtually.  Increasing the amount of laughter in our lives can have a major effect on our health.

Laughing is a serious matter.  That was the message Sushil Bhatia delivered to a group of Hubspot employees today as part of his Hubtalk (a series of talks given by industry thought leaders).  Sushil Bhatia is an Executive in Residence at Suffolk University's Sawyer Business School.  He has led corporate workshops at several companies like American Express, John Hancock centered around laughter, meditation and breathing.  

Bhatia led his audience at Hubspot through a series of exercises to demonstrate the effect of breathing, meditation and ultimately laughter on our bodies and minds.  "Everything we do is an example of innovation" according to Bhatia.  "One of the best ways to bring new value to a relationship is laughter."  If you want to convince someone in your life to come to your side of an argument, make them laugh.

Benefits of laughter include: 

  • Muscle Relaxation
  • Stress Reduction
  • Immune System Enhancement
  • Pain Reduction
  • Cardiac Exercise
  • Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Improves Respiration
  • Best of all: it's free and there are NO side-effects

While Bhatia made a very convincing argument that laughter is most certainly beneficial, he didn't stop there.  He made an equally compelling argument about the benefits of meditation.  "20 minutes of meditation is equally beneficial to 4 hours of sleep.  That doesn't mean you can meditate to go without sleep, but you will feel restored and rested like you got 4 hours of sound sleep from 20 minutes of meditation."

Oftentimes corporate executives who are tasked with innovation will tell Bhatia they don't have a spare 20 minutes in the course of a day.  That's a short-sighted way of thinking though.  If taking 20 minutes out of your 10-hour work day will allow you to be more creative, more productive, more present and capable during those 10 hours you're working, then you can't afford NOT to spend 20 minutes in meditation each day.  

Bhatia's talk was truly inspirational.  He left us with several action items:

  • Do Nothing - spend 5 minutes sitting in quiet reflection each day
  • Fitness - spirtual, physical, emotional
  • Meditate - 20 minutes each day
  • Laugh as much as possible
  • Collaborate and innovate - detach from results
  • Think Neutral - aim to balance yourself even instead of pushing yourself to be positive

Bhatia gave a version of the same talk at TEDX Amherst earlier this year:

 
How do you feel after you meditate and/or laugh?  Use the comments form below to let us know!
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