Michael Fanuele - Talk Like Music Founder and CEO

Air Date: July 10, 2019

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About This Episode:

Michael Fanuele is a brand strategist who has worked at JWT, Havas, Fallon, and most recently served as chief creative officer at General Mills. There, he tried to inspire a big food company to be a good food company, and in the process, helped Cheerios and Nature Valley grow for the first time in a decade. Currently, he’s the founder and CEO of Talk Like Music, a consultancy that helps people, places, and brands become more inspiring. His new book is called Stop Making Sense: The Art of Inspiring Anybody.

Fanuele became interested in the topic of inspiration when he found himself caught up in the theatrics of U2, a band he despised. He wondered what it was about Bono that had the power to move even the most reluctant fan. And he started thinking about how that same feeling could apply to other aspects of life and work. 

“The inspiration equation is pretty simple: passion minus reason is inspiration,” Fanuele says. "You’ve got to find a way to make things odd enough, strange enough—music-like enough that spirits soar, bodies move.”

Fanuele walks us through some of the ways we can bring emotion and inspiration to work. He shares examples of techniques that brands, businesses, and politicians use to move people.  

“The two ugliest words in the corporate lexicon? Chill out,” Fanuele says. “Why would you tell people who are obviously roused, rallied, passionate to chill out? That’s when you say, go. We need to learn how to express our feelings in places where feeling are not welcome.”

After an inspiring conversation with Fanuele, we go Back to the Classroom with the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business. John McVea, who teaches entrepreneurial strategy, says the key to getting at feelings is empathy. “It’s hard to inspire anyone without truly understanding the person you’re trying to serve. We’re in the business of finding surprises.”


Allison Kaplan's Image
Allison Kaplan

Editor-in-Chief of TCB


Michael Fanuele's image
Michael Fanuele

Founder and CEO Talk Like Music