READING TIME: 180 SECONDS.
Want some inspiration? Listen to Dylan (like a rolling stone), Jagger (I’m a king bee), Paul Simon (a bridge over troubled water) or your favourite band. Virtually every song written is full of i-kolas. And what about the greatest of them all? In 1964 Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) turned the boxing world on its ear when he called Sonny Liston “a big ugly bear” and declared he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”
How do you feel about your job?
Warren Buffett answered this question by saying “I tap-dance to work.” Warren Buffett is a wiz at conjuring up simple mental images to get his ideas across. You can see, hear, and even feel what he means: and remember it too.
When asked to describe the financial collapse at the end of 2008 Buffett said, “Wall Street has become the world’s biggest nudist beach. The tide has gone out and we can see which of
the players have been swimming naked.” Simple. Memorable.
On the day Bill Gates resigned his chairmanship of Microsoft he was asked why he didn’t come up with the iPod idea. He replied, “It’s kind of like surfing. There you are out in the ocean. Sometimes you’re in the perfect spot for a great wave, sometime the other guy is.” Makes sense! You can see it, hear it, feel it, smell it and even taste the salt-spray in your mind.
“Suppose my neighbour’s home catches on fire,” said Franklin Roosevelt in one of his “fireside” radio broadcasts to the American people,” and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help to put out his fire.” President Roosevelt was using a “parallel experience” to convince the American people to support Churchill and the British. It worked and the US went on to supply shipping, food and weapons to the people of Great Britain and help win World War 2.
These are all examples of “i-kola.” i-kola stands for ‘is kind of like a..’ An i-kola is a device to help you think up a simple image to lodge your idea in the hearts and minds of other people. Simply replace your abstract idea or concept with a “thing.” Not a wishy-washy abstract thing like “a person” or “a leader” or “happiness” but a solid picture: a pit-bull, a steam-roller, a Rubik’s cube.
Any high-school teacher will tell you these figures of speech are similes and metaphors. Any successful leader will tell you they are the most powerful tool we have at our disposal to
explain, motivate, spread the word, problem solve, sell, teach, brain-storm, convince and get a grip on personalities and relationships. i-kola images do away with complex clutter and are easier to remember than facts and figures.
i-kolas are the simplest of the three Talking in Color techniques. They should take between five and thirty seconds to deliver. Practise using one or two i-kolas everyday until they become second nature. Then you might just find yourself floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee as you tap-dance your way to work.