He built a business around the power of gab

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of the social networking site, said in a Washington Post op-ed that Facebook will try to simplify its privacy settings.
Sunday, September 26, 2010; 6:19 PM

'The Facebook Effect," by David Kirkpatrick, is the story of how a 20-something Harvard dropout named Mark Zuckerberg built a global Internet site with more than 500 million members.

The book touches on how Zuckerberg (who donated $100 million to the Newark, N.J. , school system last week) sought out an executive coach and learned how to speak in public as part of his corporate education.

He also had the sense to seek out a mentor to emulate: in this case, Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham, who is on the Facebook board.

Most entrepreneurs, whether they are building a sprawling juggernaut such as Facebook or pitching to a handful venture capitalists, need to learn how to communicate.

Arnold Sanow, 57, helps them.

Sanow teaches executives, salespeople, managers and entrepreneurs and others how to hold an audience. He also helps people become more entrepreneurial by adding public speaking - and its healthy fees - to their business repertoire. Last week's Value Added subject, tutor Ann Dolin, hired Sanow to help her build a career in public speaking.

"People who speak well are perceived as being smarter, more competent, more trustworthy, likeable and successful," said Sanow, who spoke to me by cell phone from Syracuse University, where he was visiting his son. "People want to do business with those types of people. You can't afford to do shy."

The job allows Sanow to work from home, work when he wants, travel to cool locations and meet interesting people. He charges an average of $5,000 to $7,500 for audiences at places as varied as Kaiser Permanente, the International Nanny Association and Phillips Seafood Restaurants.

Sanow said he still gets nervous before a speech, even though he has given 2,500 of them. He grosses $500,000 a year, but his income is half that because of agent fees and other costs.

Speaking didn't come naturally to the Bethesda native, who attended the University of Maryland. To overcome his fear, he joined Toastmasters International, an organization that teaches people how to speak effectively before an audience. He polished his act at the U.S. Marine Corps, where he made frequent training presentations as its director of marketing for morale.

In 1985, a friend told him about a bakery in Arlington County that was looking for someone to speak about customer relations to its 30 employees. The fee: $250 and box full of desserts.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company