You can’t reverse engineer my presentation skills, sorry

Nevertheless BusinessWeek gives it the old college try, with an article telling people how they can learn to give spellbinding presentations like mine. Some “expert” deconstructs my presentation from MacWorld in January where I introduced the iPhone. See here. The article overlooks one huge item, which is my Kreskinesque group hypnosis techniques. Unfortunately that is not something you can learn from reading a magazine article.

Another note about the iPhone hysteria and why others can’t replicate it is this. The one big mistake that other companies make is they start showing review copies of the product long before it’s available. And they try to get as many reviews as possible. They think they’re going to drum up loads of buzz. Huge mistake. Our biggest trick — and it’s not really a big stroke of genius or anything — is simply to make a huge and dramatic presentation and then not let anyone actually see the phone. That way everyone can project their hopes and desires onto the object and build it up in their imagination as some great special unique magical device. We call it the Obama Maneuver. This creates a deadly combination: loads of demand and very little actual information.

Then we manipulate reviewers. We let these bozos know that we were only going to send out four units, and that to get one they would have to sign NDAs and agree not to run their articles until a certain day. This tactic lets us rule out any renegade “independent thinkers” who won’t sign agreements like this. Instead we find the true shills who will agree to do anything we tell them. In fact they pretty much self-select. The other cool thing about forcing these guys to sign NDAs and agree to an embargo is that it makes them subservient to us. We film the signing process, partly to intimidate them and partly so that we can watch the video over and over and howl as we watch these great “lions of the media” humbly sign away their independence.

The humiliation process also reminds them that if they write something bad, they’ll be knocked off the “super special access” list. For guys like Walt Mossberg or David Pogue, access is like oxygen. Without it, they die. Their most important value-add is not their brilliant insight into products; their biggest value-add is simply being able to get stuff first. They’re not journalists. They’re courtiers. Neither of these guys is particularly tech savvy. But they’re fantastic boot-lickers.

As long as Goatberg or Pogue can keep getting stuff ahead of everyone else, they get to keep their cushy jobs which pay them huge amounts of money and make them superstars who get paid to fly around the world and give speeches and build franchises of spin-off products and websites. Goatberg’s making $1 million a year from the Journal and then has built a little empire on the side with the D conference and his D website. All of that — every little bit of it — is based on Goatberg being able to be first in line for new products. To do that, he has to keep us happy. In other words: we own him.