A lesson from Nokia

Nokia on the cover of Forbes Magazine

On 12 November 2007—ten years ago to the day as I write this post—Forbes published its magazine featuring a story about Nokia on the cover. It would turn out to be an iconic cover for the magazine, but not necessarily in the way you might think.

Forbes asked the question, “Can anyone catch the cell phone king?”

The answer? Yes.

Apple caught them. Samsung caught them. And several others caught them. You can see the spectacular rise and fall of Nokia from 1992 to 2016, both in terms of the number of phones sold and the percentage of market share, at this link.

There are many reasons why Nokia lost its dominant position in the cell phone industry. There is general consensus that these reasons include being too slow to move into the smartphone market and not responding quickly enough to the threats from competitors.

The story holds many lessons for companies. Business schools around the world use Nokia’s rise and fall as a case study. However, Nokia has an important lesson for individuals as well: Never stop learning; never stop growing; never stop innovating.

One of the best—and most important—ways in which we can learn, grow and innovate is to become better speakers. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an audience of 1,000 or an audience of one. The people who can communicate their ideas in a manner that is clear, persuasive and memorable have a big advantage over those who cannot.

What are you doing to sharpen your public speaking skills? When was the last time you gave a speech or presentation? What can you do in the next hour, the next day, the next week and the next month to become a better speaker?

If you don’t think it’s important, go check your phone. What brand is it?

Like the article? Help and spread the word!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

2 Replies to “A lesson from Nokia”

  1. So true John – complacency – mankinds greatest weakness (my opinion) – something similar happened to RIM Research in Motion – I had the full 2-page report that was done on their fall – my opinion was that they tried to compete with Apple, when they were both in totally different markets – arrogance, complacency – shareholders complained many times of the 2 co-chairs sharing the lead role and NEVER being able to agree & proceed forward.

    They are selling software today. They came out with the Blackberry which was whiz-bang – then for the next 10+ years ? They did NOTHING ! – Those kinds of companies you are happy to see go, because they do it to themselves.

    1. Thanks, Terry. I agree. I remember when the Blackberry came out. A lot of my friends had one but I never liked the feel of that clunky (to me) keyboard. But they were a market leader and it was good to see a Canadian company doing well. Things are much different today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International