Return to site

The Power of Emotion

I think there is an inherent mainstream stereotype that emotion is often perceived as a weakness. Certainly there are some roots of truth to this- especially if a person flies off the handle and can't control his or her emotions at every little obstacle or misunderstanding; however, in my opinion, this is most likely symptomatic of a lack of discipline, rather than a person simply ruled by his or her emotions. I, myself have been driven to anger many times, but usually I find what works for me is to have an hour time-out rule. Typically if I am angry at someone, either a friend, a family member or a colleague, I'll say, "I will talk to you about it tomorrow." If I am still angry after an hour, then I make a point to bring it up in a non-defensive way. However, most of the time, the things that may trigger anger may be entirely trivial in nature and not worth discussion points. My family has origins in South Korea, and I find South Korean culture very similar to the French- people express anger very quickly, then forget about it just as easily and never hold any grudges.

In relation to the power of emotion, I think it's worth noting that many social movements have risen due to the catalyst of emotions evoked from citizens around the world.

broken image

The Occupy Wall Street Movement

In a parallel way, if we think about the way emotion has moved us through history, there will always be speeches that evoke that spirit- although we are connected via the mirror of time, I think some universal speeches, especially those in literature and politics can represent the Why of what motivates us to act, and how we collectively cultivate ethics that are indicative of our generation and generations past.

Some of my favourite speeches in history are:

Marc Antony's speech after the Assassination of Julius Caesar in order to create the triumvirate.

JFK's "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country"

General McArthur's "Old soliders never die, they just fade away"

Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream"

King Edward VIII's 1936 abdication speech

How romantic was it for one of the most powerful figureheads in the world to give up his power and his home country for the love of an American woman?

broken image
American Wallis Simpson and the former King Edward VIII of England

Certainly powerful orators in recent times, such as President Obama, need only begin to speak before people begin to swoon under his influence. He is able to capture and understand how to evoke emotion in his audience, and this is a very powerful tool, the power of emotion.

broken image

Former US President Bill Clinton, another great orator, often liked to poke fun at himself in popular media, often winning the "Best Actor" role on shows like Saturday Night Live

Likewise, I think there has been a progressive movement for startups to utilise videos to promote their products, so much so, that if we examine all the startups in London that have been funded £6 million+ in recent years, we will see that they all produced several product and team videos. Of course, a good video should not be produced in lieu of a great product- but the trend seems to be that when they are able to connect emotionally to their audience- the users and companies who use their product, and the VCs that fund them, that videos have rather become a necessity rather than an option. In fact, all well-known accelerators and incubators in the US and the UK require videos as part of their admission process, and never a slide deck, business plan or a long IM (information memorandum).

A couple of years ago, I was at a mobile gaming conference, representing a startup I was working for at the time, and after meeting with an investment banker from Morgan Stanley, he told me to shorten the company business plan to 1 page, at most 1.5 pages. He told me:

"I want to read down the middle, skim through the content, and see the bottom line in [sic] one page." 

He didn't want to read the IM nor know more details about the technology. He wanted a 1pp business plan and a short company demo video which we did not have. He did not want to read the 60 pp thesis that detailed all the company objectives nor any of the patents we held nor the ideology of the company that the KidsApp EdTech CEO of the company I was working with had taken weeks to write. What he wanted a movie trailer, something that made him curious about the company that would pique his interest.

Simon Sinek in his TedTalks, The Why partly describes this phenomenon. The most effective adverts and commercials are those that rarely have anything to do with the actual product, but about people's experiences and relationships with each other. In a world where we are inundated by technology, apps, mobile games, SaaS applications and the like, we need to humanise the content, to reaffirm our humanity, rather than denying its existence.

Some of his favourite startup videos include:

As one can see, these product/ service videos focus entirely on relationships between people, so that the product/ service itself becomes ancillary to the focus, therefore getting closer to the Why of what makes people act.

Some of my personal favourites include the original gmail product video (now Chrome)

Dear Sophie: Google's original gmail product video

and also fashion eCommerce startup Lyst's videos in which they specifically created an artistic representation- resembling a living organism that was used to visualise their data analytics.


Another favourite of mine that I found really unforgettable was this video advert for...liquor.

I also remember in 2008, when I was living in Los Angeles, several Producer friends of mine and I were discussing over social media this commercial we were all blown away by...about shampoo.

Except it wasn't really about shampoo, and the Johnnie Walker video wasn't really about liquor. It was about the undefeatable human spirit.