Ex-O Aprendiz and Shark Thank, Brazilian bestseller revisits the power of argumentation
With her first book, “Persuasion – how to use rhetoric and persuasive communication in your personal and professional life”, Brazilian entrepreneur Maytê Carvalho put into perspective the importance of defending ideas clearly. A key element, especially for entrepreneurs who compete for investments in a competitive and increasingly diversified scenario.
Now, by Editora Planeta, Maytê launches a new book, this time with a focus on bringing new perspectives on the power of argumentation, “Dare to Argument – Assertive Communication for Your Voice to Be Heard”. The book has a preface by Leandro Karnal. In addition to being a writer, Maytê is a fellow researcher at the Berkeley Global Society Institute of Technology and Innovation. Professor at ESPM and Casa do Saber, as well as director of business strategy at TBWA Los Angeles. She was the winner of the special edition of the reality show O Aprendiz in 2008 and also won investment from Camila Farani in the Shark Thank program in 2016.
Forbes Brasil – Can you tell us a little about the trajectory from the beginning to the end of the book, what inspired you and what led you to talk about the topic?
Mayte Carvalho – I have been teaching Persuasion and Rhetoric since 2017, I am a fellow researcher at the Berkeley Global Society and I realized in my classes the need to approach the topic in a pragmatic way, beyond academic eruditeism. Clearly arguing and defending your ideas is the key to success in any field. On the wall in the office of one of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffet, the only diploma he keeps hanging is a certificate for the winner of a debate and public speaking competition. That says a lot. It is with the strength of our voice that we are able to convey our ideas and convictions.
FB – What is the non-obvious role of rhetoric?
Mayte – As Karnal points out in the preface of my new book, Rhetoric and Democracy are Greek terms and our way of understanding their contents, until today, passes through Hellenic thought. A classical citizen was a full individual when he could speak to others in the Agora. What is the contemporary agora? Social media. Corporate meetings. WhatsApp groups. Dare Argumentar is a work about the art of arguing and of elaborating public speeches. Contains practical techniques. The book offers frameworks and didactic content to prepare the reader for the challenges of contemporary argumentation. What resources can you use to structure your speech? Do you need to have a clear and direct opinion about everything? How to convincingly defend an idea in the corporate environment? How to analyze the different styles of thinking and use them to your advantage? How to avoid the abusive adversary or, sophisticated term, the solipsistic argument? How to escape personal speeches and polemic debates with denialists? How is the debater who uses the passive-aggressive resource structured?
FB – Can you comment on the impact of your first book and how they complement each other?
Mayte – My first book, released by Buzz, was my debut in the publishing world and it sold more copies than Rich Dad and Poor Dad in the last quarter of 2020. My first book was more utilitarian, a “how-to” with dense contents (Aristotelian and Semiotic Rhetoric) in a digestible and accessible form. The second book complements the first in the sense of being the next step to use the techniques learned in the first, offering a theoretical and practical framework in the corporate world and in personal life. It goes through vocal psychodynamics, journaling, covers not only Rhetoric (content) but oratory, the way in which what is said is said. From great political leaders to digital influencers who mobilize thousands of people on social networks, those who master the power of speech and exercise the rhetorical capacity are able to define the destiny of their lives and the community in which they are inserted. In a world in which many are guided by guesswork, I encourage the reader to dare to logically defend their point of view. Dare to question. Dare to debate. Dare to express your worldview, appropriating the power of words loud and clear.
FB – Does the way of arguing change a lot in view of the dynamic moment we are experiencing both in the resignification of leadership and in the new dynamics of work?
Mayte – Yes. We live in the age of exponentiality, of asynchronous and remote work, where the personal and private spheres are turning gray and many people are learning to re-signify the leadership of their teams towards a more horizontal and less vertical organizational governance structure. Leading is communicating. A good leader is first and foremost a good communicator. Look at Alexander the Great, mentored by Aristotle since he was 14: his rhetorical skill enabled him to achieve political hegemony. Language is a potent tool and goes hand in hand with power. Historically, the greatest leaders of humanity use the power of the word to bring about social transformations. Martin Luther King, Mandela, Michele Obama, Greta Thunberg. Are you the subject of your life or do you only respond to demands? What you want? How do you speak? Do you express your opinion and point of view or do you shut up in a meeting? Much is said about disruption and innovation in companies, but how to communicate change in an environment of uncertainty? The book addresses these issues in an accessible and pragmatic way, not only among leaders and followers, but with suppliers, stakeholders and business partners in general.
FB – What are the main barriers that still prevent a person from exercising their ability to argue and how to deal with these barriers?
Mayte – People have talked a lot about vulnerability in Ted talks and corporate literature, but human beings are terrified of being vulnerable. Arguing is about developing a framework and a cognitive ability to feel comfortable in being in a position of vulnerability. There is a 2015 survey by the British newspaper Sunday Times, which carried out a study on people’s fear of public speaking. This fear is even greater than that of financial problems, illness and death. Of the 3,000 respondents in the UK, 41% responded that the fear of speaking in front of people is the greatest. By discovering your voice and appropriating your rhetorical ability, it is possible to sublimate the fear of exposing yourself in public. It’s a technique and it can be learned, and the book gives you the tools you need to tackle that vulnerability and turn it into power.