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Best Public Speakers Series: Scott Galloway

By David Prete

We're including Scott Galloway on our "Best Public Speakers" list because of his excellent use of data, his plain language, and his way of synthesizing his message.

Best Public Speakers

Scott Galloway (born November 3, 1964) is a clinical professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business, public speaker, author, podcast host, and entrepreneur. In 1992, he founded Prophet, a brand and marketing consultancy firm. In 1997, he founded RedEnvelope, an e-commerce site specializing in unique and personalized gifts. In 2005, Galloway founded the digital intelligence firm L2 Inc, which was acquired in March 2017 by Gartner for $155 million. He also founded the now defunct Firebrand Partners in 2005. Firebrand Partners was an activist hedge fund that invested over $1 billion in U.S. consumer and media companies.

In a scorching talk, marketing professor and podcaster Scott Galloway dissects the data that shows, by many measures, young people in the US are worse off financially than ever before. He unpacks the root causes and effects of this "great intergenerational theft", asking why we let it continue and showing how we could make it end. (Note: This talk contains mature language.)

What are the main communication takeaways?

  • Owns his Brand of Humor: We never catch him trying to be funny. He is very dry and cynical. The way in which he honors that persona makes it very approachable and recognizable to the audience.

  • Strategic Use of Data: The numbers in and of themselves are enough to elicit emotion and understanding in an audience. He is also using them to change their minds about the United States and its future. This is no simple task, and he does need stats for this.

  • Turns of Phrases are Blunt and Brilliant: He has a way of synthesizing huge topics and ideas down to one sentence. For example, when he is speaking about higher education and himself as a professor, his insights about what professors are thinking are encapsulated in this one sentence: “How can I increase my compensation while reducing my accountability?” (4;58) Or, “Any university that doesn’t grow their freshman class faster than a population that has over $1 billion in endowment should lose tax free status because they’re no longer in higher education. They’re a hedge fund offering classes.” (5:52)

How could he improve?

  • Incorporate Specific Stories: When speaking of the crushing economy that falls upon young people, perhaps he could have used a specific story of a person and follow their narrative. That way we don’t just see it as a general global problem, but we see the implications on the individual as well.

  • Allow His Emotions to Peak: He does a good job at tempering his emotions, but I do believe that at some point, given his style, topic, and language, that he could let his emotions peak, perhaps once or twice during this talk.


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