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Bill Gates: The Master Tech Brieing Snake Oil Salesman

I've been in tech for the past 25 years. I've learned from the best briefing center consultants at top tech companies. The greatest practitioner I remember developed the technique called the "broken leg" pitch. The object is to convince your potential customers that their legs were broken, and you had the only available solution to fix them. The amount charged was minuscule in comparison with the fact that their legs were broken. They could have arrived by running 26 miles across frozen tundra to the briefing, but at the end of the pitch, everyone was convinced they could no longer walk without our solution.

I don't use the pitch myself, but I can recognize it when I see it. And I see it in spades in Bill Gates at the TED conference in this video. Here's a man who has a personal fortune that rivals many countries total GDP. But don't let that fool you. He is a consummate salesman. As you listen to this presentation, remember the three rules of the broken leg tech pitch:

  1. Convince your audience that they have a broken leg.
  2. Show them that you, and only you, have the cure for their broken leg.
  3. The cost of their solution is minimal, especially since you have a broken leg and can't even walk out of the briefing if I don't help you.

Works every time. Gates attempts to convince the rapt audience that the planet is going to be destroyed in a few years due to carbon dioxide emissions. There is no argument, except for some deniers who can't even keep their stories straight. The world's leg is broken.

Next, he presents the only solution is his secret special nuclear power alternative. It's the only way to stop the CO2 emissions that are causing the planet's broken leg.

Finally, notice how he minimizes the cost of the solution. A few tens of billions of dollars. Pennies, the grand scheme of things. You can afford it, and he has the only research project that will really solve the problem. Back his solution, not the others that are inferior. And notice his subtle reference to the test going on in Russia. Outsourcing the solution to foreigners is a threat to the American government that if they don't subsidize his grand plan, someone else will.

Think of all the people who fell for this style of pitch in the Redmond briefing rooms when he was at Microsoft. World governments are his next victim. Watch and marvel at an expert at work. And hold onto your wallet, your legs are fine.


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Comments (13)

"broken leg" ? I've always... (Below threshold)

"broken leg" ? I've always called it "creating a gap" and of course your product fills that gap ...
Don't forget that in most cases the "customers" called you because they think they have a gap to be filled ...
sometimes people do have gaps and businesses do have solutions (shocking I know) ...

The problem here is that the gap, i.e. CO2 is going to kill us without a solution is a fraud.

When your audience has already convinced themselves that they have a problem your job as a salesman is like shoot fish in a barrel ... they WANT a solution so bad that almost anything will win the sale ...

Gates got to where he is to... (Below threshold)

Gates got to where he is today, not by his intellect, but by the mistakes of others. He built on that by hiring talented people. Unfortunately, for him, he believes the hype that HE made Microsoft. More intelligent people have done dumber things.

I don't have much trouble w... (Below threshold)

I don't have much trouble with Gates pushing alternative energy - him being willing to push nuclear is nice. At least he's not trying to push some massive windmill with blades the length of New Hampshire...

This was probably how Gates... (Below threshold)

This was probably how Gates convinced Big Blue to allow him to retain a proprietary right to DOS when he was their employee.

I am a proponent for nuclea... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

I am a proponent for nuclear power and if the engineering for a traveling wave reactor works out then the U.S. government should invest in building a pilot plant to prove or disprove the technology. Eventually the U.S. will need a replacement for coal, oil and natural gas, so that should be the driving force behind such R&D.

The mistake Bill Gates is making is in linking development of the traveling wave reactor to AGW. The global warming scam will fall apart long before the TWR pilot plant can be built and the link to that scam may prove fatal to TWR projects.

Besides dropping global temperatures the AGW scam's greatest risk is for some well connected scientist to examine the fundamental assumptions underpinning CO2 forcing and ask the question "can an atmosphere with no greenhouse gases trap heat?" The answer is yes and the details of how that works and what happens when greenhouse gases are introduced debunks the "CO2 forcing" assumption upon which the entire AGW scam depends.

He seems pretty oblivious t... (Below threshold)

He seems pretty oblivious to the problems the warmists have been having re the integrity of the data lately - but you know something? If it takes the false threat of global warming to get enviro-luddites off the friggin' stick to allow nuclear power to be restarted without fighting the builders to the last lawyer standing, I'm good with that. And we can have cheap power while they bask in their delusional glory of having saved the planet.

"Yep, yep, you done good. I gotta go plug in the driveway heater - looks like we're getting another foot of snow and I want it to be nice and warm so it'll melt off fast..."

Using black children as pro... (Below threshold)

Using black children as props for a fear mongering agenda.. Why not? He could probably use a few more bucks.

JL:"If it takes the ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"If it takes the false threat of global warming to get enviro-luddites off the friggin' stick to allow nuclear power to be restarted without fighting the builders to the last lawyer standing, I'm good with that."

I can't go along with that line of thinking.

I agree in the short term or narrow term of nuclear power it would be good, but the fake AGW threatens more than just power generation.
The Cap'nTrade tax thievery et al... horribly affects all aspects of our lives and our economy. The climate Scientologists (and the opportunistic politicians who glom on to their ideas)are too much of a threat to human freedom to go unchallenged.

Now, if we could dupe the anti-nuke nutjobs that AGW was real and convince the rest of the world that AGW is a hoax-riddled unproven theory...I guess I could go along with that. :)

I think that ever since Gat... (Below threshold)

I think that ever since Gate's got dragged in front of congress for the sin of being too successful, he has been much more careful in kowtowing to the altars of politically correct thoughts and deeds.

Bill Gates skill is in reco... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Bill Gates skill is in recognizing and building upon the next great technological advancement. Considering even Spain is ahead of us in research & development of alternate energies, I'm thankful we have Bill gates.

To know Bill Gates is to lo... (Below threshold)

To know Bill Gates is to loath how he manipulated the industry with some big-time help - like C. Michael Armstrong, the then IBM SVP. I competed against him and his tactics 3 times and won all 3.

The bohunk about Spain is just that. It's like global warming, or is that global cooling, I'm confused.

Gates is trying to solve AIDS and overlooks all but his vision which is flawed.

And the list goes on. He was lucky. It went to his head and his head is still swollen.

He's a perfect complement to Joe Biden. We appreciate that he's making the effort, just don't listen to his words as they often don't make much sense.

Oh, throw a few billion my way, I could use them to build a new, better company.

Bill Gates is your typical ... (Below threshold)

Bill Gates is your typical liberal brainwashing us with those stupid WE SE ads drawing dumb chalk drawings

Keep in mind while you list... (Below threshold)

Keep in mind while you listen that the Sahara Desert is shrinking because it is greening. "Climate Scientists" don't seem to know why.
Maybe it's that CO2 that allows plants to grow easier.






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