Taoti Talks is a regular series of blog posts with Awesome people who are changing the world through emerging technology. Each month, we feature a leader who is having a real impact and making the world a better place.
This past month, Stacy Whittle sat down with Dr. Joe Romm to discuss his latest book, “How to Go Viral and Reach Millions.” The book is chock-full of advice and practical tips on how to be a better writer and speaker – and about what it takes to go viral in a time when people are over saturated with information.
Dr. Romm is a scientist who talks about the climate. He was named one of “The 100 People Who Are Changing America” by Rolling Stone magazine. CNN host, Van Jones, calls Dr. Romm “the communicator’s communicator.” His latest book, “How to Go Viral and Reach Millions,“ is “an indispensable book for everyone who tweets, who posts online or who loves language,” tweets NY Times columnist, Tom Friedman.
Listen to the conversation.
The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.
Stacy asked Dr. Romm a series of questions from the Proust Questionnaire. Here are his responses:
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness means maximizing the time spent doing the work I love most – writing, helping people achieve their full potential – and being with the people I love most.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
My tough 10th grade English teacher had told me that “so” was the most overused word. So naturally I started using it all the time J But as I discuss in my book, I’ve come to learn that “so” is one of the most important words for creating a narrative. So it turns out I’m not overusing it….
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Professionally, my greatest achievement is my book, since even world-class communicators have told me that it changed how they write and speak. Personally, it’s my 11-year-old daughter. Of course, “achievement” isn’t the right word since her achievements are her own. But she’s what I’m most proud of in my life.
Who are your favorite writers?
My favorite writers are Shakespeare and Lin-Manuel Miranda and. Shakespeare’s ability to craft memorable phrases and indelible characters is unmatched in the English language. Miranda has done the impossible and matched Shakespeare’s brilliance. As I say in my book, if you want to master the art of viral storytelling, memorize the score to Hamilton.
Who are your heroes in real life?
The person I admire the most, who has been effortlessly heroic my whole life, is my mother. And her most heroic quality is the ability to always see the best in people, to unfailingly believe in them, and to tirelessly help them become that best version of themselves.
What is your motto?
In college, I read Ian Fleming’s books, and a line from Casino Royale has always stuck with me, “Surround yourself with human beings, my dear James. They are easier to fight for than principles.”
Why should people buy your book?
To start, you will learn the simple trick for telling viral stories used by Hollywood’s best screenwriters and viral superstars like Oprah. But that’s just one chapter in the first practical handbook that teaches the ancient art and modern science of viral storytelling. It will change how you write and speak. And if don’t believe me, go to Amazon.com and read the reviews.