I like watching movies. I watch them not only for entertainment value; they are also good sources of inspiration and interesting insight.
I especially like movies with good dialogue. Scenes involving courtroom cross-examinations and business negotiations are among my favorites. One of them is “Margin Call”, a film based on real-life events that took place during the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
The climax came during a Senior Partners emergency meeting of an investment bank, where top executives were summoned at 4am to discuss the appropriate course of action against an imminent market collapse.
Leading the meeting and in his opening statement, fictional CEO John Tuld (portrayed brilliantly by Jeremy Irons) asked the bank’s analyst to explain what’s happening, and “please, speak as you might to a young child or a Golden Retriever.”
Yes, speak to the Ivy-league educated, million-dollar salaried CEO of a worldwide influential company, as if he is a young child or a dog. Quite counterintuitive, right?
While that actual line might be dramatized for cinematic effects, I believe Tuld’s message is true: “speak to me in simple language that is easy to understand… especially the complicated things.” Also true is his hidden message: “waste not my valuable time.”
In business, the ability to communicate complex ideas in simple terms is at a premium, yet often overlooked. Look no further than Apple’s product presentation, Elon Musk’s emails, Barack Obama’s slogan, or Ichiro Suzuki’s interviews. It is the difference between a good and a great leader, between an average and an exceptional campaign, between you and that salary raise you are looking for.
That is why at Veritas, we emphasize immensely on presenting opinions clearly, concisely and with easy-to-understand keywords. Because to speak “as you might to a young child” is not only an important business skill, it is a craft that can be developed through purposeful practices. (Here’s our approach.)
I don’t ever recommend calling your boss and clients that, but if you are able to explain to them complex things in simple terms like a young child, you will be hugely rewarded for it.
(Check out the Senior Partners Meeting scene on YouTube)
(Or watch the entire “Margin Call” movie on Amazon Prime Video)
Phil was born and raised in Taiwan until 15, then educated and trained in the US for the next twelve years, where he began building a passion for languages and helping people achieve their potentials: as a sports business consultant assisting athletes and corporations, and as an editor and translator helping authors curate ideas into forms, before moving back to Asia.
Regardless of assignment or industry, he always tries to adhere to the motto: “Are those who I serve better off because of me, and the information, service or product I provide?”
Now in Japan with his wife and two kids, and together with the team at Veritas, Phil hopes to grow as a coach and as a business mind, while helping to inspire clients on their journey to self-development and global leadership.