“Animal → Mammal → Camel”


So, this happened …

Just because something is ridiculously obvious, doesn’t mean it’s not also a ridiculously powerful secret.

It was probably only when I became a father that I thought about layers of knowledge as deeply as this. I was made aware of this process every day, while teaching her things, and watching her develop.

  • A baby doesn’t have to be very old to tell the difference between Animals and Plants.
  • As they get a little older, even within the category “animals”, they can easily differentiate between Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Insects.
  • Soon thereafter, very young children can already tell the difference between various Mammals, like cats versus cows. And they don’t have much difficulty knowing that a Camel is closer to other Mammals (like cows) than it is to a chameleon or a cabbage.

(These aren’t Nobel Prize discoveries here, we are talking about very young children!)

When we’re young (or new to a subject) we have just an overview of knowledge, the so-called “big picture”.

  • Animal, Plant, Toy
  • Atoms are like little balls that make up all matter
  • Bitcoin is an electronic form of currency
  • We call all of this #Animal

As we get older, we start to see “inside” the big picture, and our knowledge starts to gain depth.

  • We zoom inside the broad category of “Animal”
  • We learn that there are sub-categories, like Mammals, Birds, Insects, Reptiles
  • Atoms are not solid balls, they’re made up of Protons, Neutrons, Electrons
  • Ownership and transfer of any Bitcoin is recorded all over a network of computers
  • #Animal . . . #Mammal

And again, as we mature (or gain experience), our knowledge becomes detailed.

  • Even within “Mammals” we can now appreciate there are Camels, Felines, Primates, etc.
  • Protons & neutrons can further be broken down into quarks and gluons
  • Bitcoin transactions do not need to go through any bank or central body, it’s all recorded and governed by this distributed computer network
  • #Animal . . . #Mammal . . . #Camel

What’s actually happening here?

The obvious observation is that there are different levels of knowledge, which become increasingly complex as you zoom in.

But the open secret is that each layer of knowledge actually builds on the previous layers.

In spite of the fact that people are generally not too bad at applying the “obvious observation” above, we are usually terrible at applying the “open secret”.

For example, while most people would do a good job of explaining evolution differently to a 7 year-old child than to a 17 year-old child, I’ve found that few people are good at “building up” their explanation in a way that the 17 year-old would first understand it as a 7 year-old would, and only then drill into the additional details that they are capable of appreciating.

The impact of this approach is significant, as you will see below.

Let me direct and explicit here. If you apply the “Animal Mammal Camel”] technique, you will massively boost your results!

This includes giving presentations, lecturing, explaining, debating, selling, writing reports, dating, or even playing chess.

Let’s see exactly what this technique entails, and how to use it. Everywhere.

Simple Definition

Animal Mammal Camel: This is the technique of building increasingly detailed layers of knowledge into any communication, starting with the big picture #Animal, through the structural #Mammal, down to the detailed #Camel layer.

Summarizing what it means

Although the concept of “Animal Mammal Camel” is based on three layers of knowledge, it’s actually just a single idea which ties together those three layers.

  • The lesson is not . . . Find out what someone’s depth of knowledge is, then explain to them at that level.
  • The lesson is . . . First explain something quickly in simple terms, then explain it again in more detail, then explain it again in full detail.

People who don’t understand, won’t agree.

People who don’t understand, won’t remember.

People who don’t understand, won’t buy.

The “Animal Mammal Camel” technique helps people understand.

Atomic knowledge

Let’s use atoms as an example of applying the different layers of knowledge:

  • #Animal:  An atom is like a tiny ball that makes up all matter . . . 
  • #Mammal:  . . . which is actually a nucleus (made up of protons and neutrons), and electrons (which orbit around it) . . . 
  • #Camel:  . . . but zooming in further, we find even smaller particles (like quarks and gluons), and electrons themselves exhibit weird behavior (acting like both a particle and a waveform at the same time).

This is what is really going on:

  • Yes, it would be technically correct to immediately start talking about quarks and gluons. But that’s only useful when explaining specifically to an advanced audience.
  • On the other hand, for an intermediate audience, #Camel will not make sense unless you first explain with #Mammal.
  • And a beginner audience might not even understand #Mammal until they’ve at least heard #Animal.
  • The good news for a total beginner is that once they’ve heard #Animal, they will be able to understand #Mammal, and thereafter they will be able to understand most or all of #Camel.

So if you’re with specialists, then you’re welcome to geek out at the #Camel level. But the more likely scenarios are (a) you’re talking to a more diverse group, and (b) you need to bring some people up to your level of understanding.

One builds on the other

A twig insect is not a twig, no matter how similar they look. Coral is not a plant, it’s an animal, no matter what similarities you spot.

Similarly, it’s all very well to say that a “sea anemone” is different to an “anemone flower”, but it’s only when we understand that one is an animal and the other is a plant, that we truly appreciate how different they are!

In this chapter, the individual layers are – by themselves – not important. The key is to bring them together and build each layer on the previous one.

There are many contexts for applying the “Animal Mammal Camel” technique:

  • If you’re giving a lecture or presentation, this approach ensures that everyone gets value from your talk, no matter what their starting point. And further, everyone gets as much value as they can handle. If you do #Animal-only then many will get bored, and if you do #Camel-only then many will get lost.
  • If you’re selling with this technique, not only will people walk away knowing the #Animal big-picture (how does this benefit them), but they will also know the #Mammal level (the advantages of the product) and the #Camel details (the features of the product or service being sold).
  • Whatever the nature of your communication, the #Camel details ensure that people truly understand something by the end, but it’s the #Animal description that makes sure it’s memorable and comes easily to mind later on. #Mammal connects the big picture to the details.

This is one of the most important techniques you can learn, on how to explain things (general communication, lecturing, selling, influencing) through any system, including #HashtagYourLife.

If you’ve understood this summary, then you’re already in a much better position than before. But I cannot recommend highly enough that you take your time to work through some or all of the examples in the rest of this chapter, slowly.

It really is that important.

Discussing what it means

Ironically, in order to simplify your life, you first have to go through the details.

(We learned this in #[A Punch is just a Punch] chapter, which you should try to read next.)

The chapter is quite long, but not because it’s complex. It’s actually a very easy read.

It’s long because I’ve tried to give many examples of the different ways this technique can be applied. You can skim through the ones that are less relevant, and go slowly through the ones where you would benefit the most.

Remember that “Animal Mammal Camel” represents the combination of all three layers of knowledge, and it’s not merely three separate labels about how detailed your communication is.


PART I – When you think about it, it’s so obvious!

Practice What You Preach – I do!

Look carefully at the structure of any chapter of the #HashtagYourLife system. Did you notice that they have been designed according to the “Animal Mammal Camel” principle?

  • The big-picture (the so-called #Animal layer) is the story which appears at the start of each chapter (and there is always a short Definition that follows to make the core message absolutely clear)
  • Additional details (the #Mammal layer) can be seen in the Summary section of each chapter. This builds on the core concept while providing a broader understanding of the what, why, and how.
  • The detailed Discussion section (the #Camel layer) provides more examples, gives additional pointers on the “how”, addresses both the “if you do it” and “if they do it to you” perspectives, and more.

HYL chapters all use the Animal Mammal Camel structure

And this is WHY I’ve structured every chapter using this concept

  • By starting with the story and a definition (#Animal) the reader (that’s you!) immediately gets a sense of what the chapter is about, and indeed whether it’s of interest
  • With the primary lesson now clear, anything in the Summary section (#Mammal) has a context, and thus is easier to understand. And people with limited time (or where the topic is of limited relevance) can stop after reading the Summary, and still have learned new tools for simplifying and improving life
  • The detailed Discussion section (#Camel), by building on top of the previous two layers, is much easier to understand because the reader will by now have the concept and structure in mind.

If I were to get too detailed too quickly, then you will probably remain confused for a while, until you eventually work out what I’m trying to achieve. In that case, you will then have to re-read the first half to get any value out of it – which is a waste of time (assuming you didn’t just close the page and go back to Reddit).

If I never get to a detailed discussion, then people for whom the topic is really important and who really want to understand and action the idea, will feel dissatisfied with the superficial approach, and will have little to take away that is actionable.

There should not be only one layer

I’ve already highlighted several times that “Animal Mammal Camel” is not about the individual labels, but about bringing the three layers together.

  • Only-Animal is clickbait-ish, like reading news headlines only.
  • Only-Mammal is simultaneously without context and without anything deeper to dig into if the topic excites you.
  • Only-Camel can be intimidating, hard to see the wood for the trees, and caters only to a very specific slice of your audience.

The secret – of course – is to bring these layers together.  Just think “Animal Mammal Camel” every time you start writing or talking (or explaining, or selling, or coaching, …) and watch as a work of art flows out of you.

As you’ll see below, all you have to do is explain it three times in a row. First, make it quick and simple. Second, provide a more detailed structure. Third, add in all the additional details. Animal Mammal Camel.

Begin like an animal, Finish like a camel

When we were at school or at university, we were taught terrible habits.

  • You would write a five-page essay on the causes of World War 1, and the teacher would compare your answer to their marking schedule, giving 1 point each time they found a fact that matched up.
  • As a result, your essays were more like long lists with verbs in every point, clumped together in paragraphs.
  • Students didn’t learn how to prioritize facts nor to appreciate their relative importance, and they certainly didn’t write with the most important material at the top.
  • What they should have done better was to give more marks for a short powerful introduction that was both a clear summary and a memorable takeaway, then some marks for a slightly more detailed highlighting of the main themes, and then finally just 1 mark for each relevant fact thereafter.

Journalists are much better at this. They are trained to effectively use the “Animal Mammal Camel” concept (although they might not call it that).

  • The headline should be enough for you to know broadly what happened, even if you don’t read the article.
  • The opening paragraph should go into the key points you need to understand what really happened.
  • And then all additional paragraphs are bonus details, each of which becomes less and less important as the article progresses.

ELI5 is the starting point, not the endpoint

On the internet, you will find groups that discuss topics under the banner of “ELI5” (Explain it like I’m 5 years old), or something similar. Basically, people are challenged to describe really complicated concepts (like quantum physics, mRNA vaccines, compound interest, etc.) as if talking to a 5-year old.

This brings to mind famous quotes like:

  • “If you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it”, or
  • “I apologize for such a long letter – I didn’t have time to write a short one.” (Mark Twain)

Being able to significantly simplify a topic (what we’re calling #Animal) is not only commendable, it’s essential.

BUT for us, the simplest explanation should be seen as the starting point towards a more complex explanation – it’s not sufficient in it’s own right. The #Animal level of detail sets up a framework for the next two levels of explanation.


PART II – a variety of applications

In this section, you’ll find a mix of examples to show you how wide-ranging the application of this technique is. You can read just one, or you can read ‘em all. The more you see, the more capable you will be of applying the approach in future.

(If you pay attention, you will see that I start with simpler Animal-ish examples, and build towards more Camel-ish complexity as I go.)

Where are you from?

Pre-Covid, I was a heavy business traveler, typically flying to a couple of countries every month for many years, across Asia and Europe mostly.

It wasn’t uncommon to get into a conversation with the passenger next to me, who would often ask where I’m from.

The wrong approach is to start off fully zoomed-in, and then zoom out until they understood.

It would not be clever if I began, “I grew up on Woodness Road.” It would still fail even if I add, upon seeing their confusion, “That’s in the suburb of Eastcliff.”

Since they don’t know anything about me, from their perspective I could come from anywhere in the world, so the information I’ve given them is basically useless. It’s too detailed to begin with #Camel granularity.

The right approach is to start off fully zoomed-out, and then zoom in until they no longer understand.

I always begin with the big picture, and then build on that. Animal Mammal Camel.

“I’m from South Africa. What city? Oh, I grew up in Johannesburg. Oh, you worked there for a year? Great – so do you know Eastcliff? No? It’s actually in the North-East of Johannesburg. Yes, exactly – it’s not far from there. I grew up on Woodness Road.”

Note the importance of starting big, and then zooming in.

Connecting at a party (and meeting strangers in elevators)

Yeah, “Animal Mammal Camel” can even improve your dating life.  🎉

Just imagine at how popular I’d be at parties if, when asked what I do, my reply was:

  • “I work in a specialist division within a large reinsurance company, which insures the insurance companies, focusing on structured reinsurance transactions as a tool for capital management, but which is based on a regulatory arbitrage mechanism.”

Even if I were talking to another actuary, they would get bored about 10 words in.

Instead, I should begin with an #Animal introduction, which serves two purposes:

  • Even if I only have 10 seconds to talk before someone comes to interrupt us with a tray of macaroons, they’ll still get a good idea of what I do.
  • If they are interested to hear more, then I can build on what I said first to make it easier to follow.

This is, similarly, the basis of the so-called elevator pitch: being able to explain what you do in a very short period of time.

The most common way people fail when introducing themselves at cocktail parties or in the proverbial elevator, is that even if they have a well-prepared (#Animal) elevator pitch, when the person shows any interest whatsoever, they vomit up a complicated and overwhelming #Camel follow-up.

They miss the #Mammal. And then the other person ejects.

Don’t make that mistake. Yes, have a quick and clear (#Animal) introduction, but be prepared with a solid (#Mammal) follow-up. Don’t miss this step!

  • Firstly, this ensures that you don’t go from making someone interested by your introduction, to overwhelming them with a dump of details.
  • Secondly, you create momentum in their curiosity. Let them ask for more information before you go #Mammal, then lead them to ask again before you go #Camel. People are much more engaged when they repeatedly ask for more information, than when you keep dumping details on them that they didn’t want.

How to sell better using “Animal Mammal Camel”

“Turn to the person next to you and sell them your pen,” the lecturer said to about 500 people at a sales seminar I attended many years ago. Immediately, everyone turned to the person next to them and started talking about this amazing pen they had.

pink and gold fountain pen

Of course, we all failed – and the lecturer made that very clear. “How can you sell someone a pen before you know what they want from a pen?”

Do they prefer expensive pens to impress their clients? Do they like cheap pens because they’re always losing them? Do they want plain black pens because their children keep ‘borrowing’ the colorful ones?

That’s the day I learned about the Features-Advantages-Benefits framework:

  • Features are specific to what is For-sale.  Benefits are specific to the wants and needs of the Buyer.
  • Most people sell the Features, but most people buy on the basis of Benefits.

Later I realized that this “FAB” approach is actually just an example of my “Animal Mammal Camel” framework.

  • The most important perspective – the #Animal view – is that of Benefits. People won’t buy something unless it will give them what they want. Apple got this right in their earliest iPod adverts: they didn’t tell you how many megabytes of storage it had, they just said “1000 songs in your pocket”
  • Once the Benefits are clear, you can discuss the #Mammal view, being the Advantages of your product or service, including why it’s better than the competition, or better than what they’re using at the moment. This would include efficiency, ESG alignment, value for money, easy set-up, etc.
  • Finally, especially for the technical buyers, the #Camel view lets you discuss the detailed Features of what you’re selling. Size, speed, cost, cloud-connected – these are all facts, but no one cares about these (including the prices) until they’ve even decided that they might want it (because of the Benefits!).

Whenever you sell something, first give them the big picture (the benefit to them), then give them the details (the advantages of that solution), and only then go into the specifications (the features).

Explaining a specialist topic to a range of people using “Animal Mammal Camel”

In this video, you will see the amazing musician Jacob Collier (yes, that Jacob Collier) explaining the concept of musical Harmony to 5 people: a child, a teen, a college music student, a professional pianist, and jazz legend Herbie Hancock.

Animal Mammal Camel uses Jacob Collier to explain

  • If you are a professional musician, you might find #1-3 boring.
  • If you know nothing about music but watch explanations #3-5, you might be really confused.
  • BUT as a non-musician, if you start with #1 then #2, then you will have a much better idea of what is being said in #3-5.

Can you see how significant that is?

The same explanation that makes no sense to you when hearing it stand-alone, can actually be easily understood if you first hear the basics.

As a non-musician, I know that, while I did broadly understand videos 3 and 4, if I hadn’t seen the first two, I would have been totally lost.

And that’s the point of “Animal Mammal Camel” – it’s not about being able to explain concepts to people at different skill levels, it’s about building complex concepts on top of simple versions, so that:

  • more people can understand most of what you say, and
  • more people will, later on, be able to remember the core of what was said, even if they started with no music knowledge whatsoever.

Turning #Camel into #Animal over time, through Chess

There are many sites, like chess.com and lichess.org, where people can play against a computer. These machines use complex algorithms to evaluate millions of possible moves, perhaps going around 20 levels deep.

What might look like a good move to a casual player, can be seen by the computer to be a terrible move because of what can go wrong 5-10 moves down the line.

It’s not uncommon for people to screenshot a game and ask a discussion community why an algorithm is telling them that this move is rubbish, whereas that move is excellent. They are stuck because their knowledge is at the #Mammal level, while the algorithm is at the #Camel level. But they would still like a broad understanding as to why that was a good or terrible move.

Being told that this move has a score of 8.7 and that move has a score of 2.3 is way too granular, too #Camel. They need to be able to understand it structurally, so that they can play better chess in future by transferring the concepts to other games, and not relying on a computer scoring algorithm each time.

  • So someone might reply, “That move looks good to you because you’re taking a piece from your opponent. But it’s also leaving your King exposed on the left, which is bad. In a few moves’ time, your opponent will probably slip in through that gap and so be able to Checkmate you. That’s why it’s potentially a poor move.”

“There are more … games … than the number of electrons in our universe” (source) – so in learning something complex, it’s not good enough to rely on a #Camel-like understanding. That’s for computers. You need to find a way to simplify the game, to give your human mind something to work with. The above example of an explanation should be understandable to anyone who even knows only the most basic rules of the game.

Over time, what used to be #Mammal for you actually becomes so obvious that it’s now #Animal. And previous #Camel detail becomes #Mammal. This allows you to absorb more and deeper #Camel details than you were previously capable of.

You progress when old #Mammal becomes your new #Animal, so that you can take on a whole new world of #Camel.

For example, I once played against someone really advanced, who said to me, “You may as well give up, because I am guaranteed to checkmate you in 5 moves. You can’t stop me.”

While I personally couldn’t see it, it had only taken him seconds to spot it. What is #Animal for him was #Camel to me. Lucky he was able to explain it simply enough, and then build on that until I could finally see that the game was – indeed – lost to me.”

A Manager giving feedback to staff

Imagine your manager tells you the following:

  • “You’re missing a lot of deadlines, and that is impacting on our client relationships. Plus there are too many typos in your work, which wastes my time having to fix your reports before they can go out.”

Does that sound like you’re about to be put on a formal improvement plan? Or does it sound like your boss is about to announce she’s firing you?

But what if your boss preceded the above #Mammal-level of feedback, with any of the following possible #Animal-level openers:

  • “The quality of your work is unacceptable, and it’s time for us to part ways.”  OR
  • “There are many problems with your work, but we still see good potential in you. Some things must be fixed urgently, so we can engage you more fully.”  OR
  • “You know I’m not happy with aspects of your work. But the creativity you bring to problem-solving is valuable, so we will change your job to build on your strengths, but you won’t be dealing directly with clients for a while.”

And then she gives the details at the start of this section.

Can you see that by painting the #Animal “big picture” first, the manager helped give clarity and direction before getting into the details? As a result of this context, you understood better where she was going with her references to deadlines and typos.

Had she not taken this approach, then …

  • The employee might have got defensive and even aggressive, trying to explain away why deadlines were missed, without realizing that he is not about to be fired, so should rather listen and take the feedback.
  • Or the employee might have assumed it was the end of the line, and only appreciated halfway through the #Camel section (the detailed improvement plan) that he’s being helped and not fired. By that stage, though, he’s misunderstood most of what she said!

Clearly, the “Animal Mammal Camel” approach is very effective for managers to use when structuring feedback to staff.

An innocent video, with a misleading beginning

Let’s build on this idea further, that the #Animal-opening is essential in giving your communication the correct direction. We saw how it can go wrong above.

Similarly, you can search on YouTube for innocent videos that have a misleading beginning.

The artist intentionally draws something that looks like genitals (!), but as they continue to draw, you realize it’s a picture of Santa with his reindeer, or a candle with decorations.

Of course they do this intentionally for the sake of fun, but the point is that if the person doesn’t know where you’re going with your words, and if they misinterpret this, then you are at risk of completely losing them, or leaving them coming to conclusions that you did not intend. 

Begin like an #Animal, so they know where you’re going next.

Explaining Bitcoin to a newbie

Imagine you know almost nothing about Bitcoin (which might actually be true right now!), and you go to Bitcoin.com to learn more. Their article “What is Bitcoin?” begins as follows:

  • Bitcoin is the first and most widely recognized cryptocurrency. It enables peer-to-peer exchange of value in the digital realm through the use of a decentralized protocol, cryptography, and a mechanism to achieve global consensus on the state of a periodically updated public transaction ledger called a ‘blockchain’.

Are you now clear what Bitcoin is? I doubt it!

Surely someone who would read an article “What is Bitcoin?” is likely to be someone who doesn’t understand “decentralized protocol”, “global consensus” and “public transaction ledger”!

Clearly, they jumped straight into #Camel detail and immediately lost many readers.

A better approach is to start with #Animal then #Mammal, and build up towards #Camel. This gives the beginner something clear and memorable to build on, and it sets the theme for advanced readers too.

So I will have a go at giving them a good opening paragraph:

  • Bitcoin is the first (and biggest) so-called crypto-currency. This means it’s a form of money that exists only on a network of computers across the globe.
  • You own Bitcoin if the computer network has your ID associated with a ‘coin’, and when you spend that coin, all the computers in the network update their records with the ID of the other person, who is now the owner of that coin.
  • No banks or governments need to be involved, so Bitcoin is called ‘decentralized’. And since it’s your ID (and not your real name) associated with the coin, ownership and spending are anonymous. Because there is a limited supply of Bitcoin, the demand to own them creates a deemed value, so Bitcoin can be traded, spent, or speculated upon.

I don’t claim to be an expert on crypto-currency, and I accept my attempt is not perfect. But challenge yourself …

  • If you knew nothing about Bitcoin, which opening explanation is easier to follow – theirs or mine?
  • Which opening explanation is easier to build on, as the article gets more complex?
  • Can you see that I began with an #Animal but they began with a #Camel?

It’s fractal too!

If you look at this fern leaf, you can see that a single branch of the full leaf looks exactly like the full leaf. And the blade within the branch also looks like the full leaf. In other words, each part looks the same as the whole.

fern leaves repeat structure into increasing levels of detail

This recursive pattern is called “fractal”, and it’s common in nature (fern leaves, coastlines, river networks, etc.)

And the “Animal Mammal Camel” structure can be made fractal too.

So if you’re writing an article about “What is Bitcoin?” (see above) then it should be written with an #Animal introduction, some #Mammal structure, and then the #Camel details.


Within the #Animal introduction, you can even make it so the first sentence is #Animal in nature, the second sentence is #Mammal, and the third is #Camel.

If you go back to my attempt at an #Animal opening for Bitcoin, you will see I split it into three bullet points for your convenience. And if you look carefully, you will see that even within that #Animal introduction, the first bullet is like an intro to the intro (“currency”), the second bullet adds structure (“computer network”), and the third gives detail to the introduction (“decentralized”).

My layering of knowledge contains a layering of knowledge.

Visually, you might remember the fractal ‘repeating’ structure as follows:

The Animal Mammal Camel structure can fractally replicate within the Animal Mammal Camel structure

The longer your communication, the more valuable it is to create #Animal #Mammal #Camel branches within each of the high-order branches.

Technical presentations

Years ago, I used to head an international team that specialized in something called “structured reinsurance solutions”, which implemented capital management solutions for large insurance companies.

Our structures weren’t that well known, so I was often giving an hour-long presentation, either internally to staff in other teams who should know this, or to clients in order to get them interested in the idea, or at conferences to support the insurance industry and the actuarial profession.

Even then, I was applying the “Animal Mammal Camel” structure to my talk:

  • I began by summarizing my entire talk in just 5 bullet points, which took less than 1 minute! This is the #Animal detail.
    • ”We give them capital
    •   They give it back to us
    •   If they can
    •   How much do we give them?
    •   Whatever they can give back to us.”
  • (Can you see that, even though these were incredibly complex financial structures, the opening is super simple? Everyone in the audience was able to understand the most basic level of detail from the start, so they continued paying attention – without zoning out!)
  • I then went into #Mammal mode, by taking 10-15 minutes to explain exactly the same 5 bullet points, but this time taking a couple of minutes each to clarify more broadly what each means.
  • Then I went into detail, taking another half-hour to really climb into the details, covering regulations, collateral arrangements, par portfolios, etc.

During my talk, I listed those 5 bullet points about a dozen times. Every time I saw some confusion in the audience about something I had just said, I referred back to those bullet points, so they could see that everything I was saying was still fitting inside my #Animal framework.

I didn’t realize quite how effective this structure was until I flew from London to Singapore on business. I was going to be meeting with several clients, but – at the request of the head of the Singapore office – I was asked to present to all interested staff about the structures I do.

While making my way to the conference room, alongside the other staff who were heading there too, I bumped into an ex-colleague from London, who had transferred internally to Singapore a year or two before.

She immediately asked me, “Are you going to do a talk similar to what you did in London? You know that ‘We give them capital, They give it back …’ talk?”

I was blown away! Not only had she remembered the #Animal structure of my presentation, but it was such a long time since she’d seen me give it.

This “Animal Mammal Camel” approach is incredibly powerful, both in terms of helping people understand complex topics, as well as making them memorable!


PART III – conclusion

The concept of #[Animal Mammal Camel] is incredibly simple, and easy to apply.

When you get good at thinking in these layers, and building these layers during your communications, your results will explode with success.

Better connections with people, increased influence, more memorable, more often quoted, easily understood. Now that is a great outcome!

Making it personal

To get you started in this quick journey to mastery of the technique, here are a few exercises for you to go through. It’s not that hard :)

  • Read the #HashtagYourLife chapter called #[Tomato – fruit or veg? Yes] and see that you can see each of the #Animal, #Mammal and #Camel sections?
  • Go to the Wikipedia article for Fractal and think about what level their opening paragraph is.
  • Read something you’ve written recently – a blog post, a long email to your client, a report you authored, a sales pitch, or a proposal that you sent out. Ask yourself:
    • Is there an obvious #Animal introduction?
    • How far away from “Animal Mammal Camel” was the structure of your report?
    • If the only thing you were allowed to do was to move paragraphs around, how could you improve the report in line with your learnings of this lesson?
    • Could you then build on the above improved version by adding headings to help your reader feel the enhanced structure?
    • How would you totally re-write your opening 1-3 paragraphs, to be the perfect opening for this communication that you’re wanting to improve?
    • Print out the original document, now print out the new! improved! version, and read them one after the other – can you see how much better it is now?
    • Now share those two printouts with some friends or colleagues (or your boss) and ask them to tell you which version they prefer?

Finally, send me an email (hello@HashtagYourLife.com) with the above two versions, and I will be happy to provide input to further improve your structure for maximum impact.

Don’t be shy, I’m happy to help.

Related stories

#[A Punch is just a Punch]
#[The Restaurant That Had No Name]
#[Cup vs Glass]
#[Putting tree in your field]

Headline Picture Credit and Picture Credit and Picture Credit