100 Ways to Succeed #17:

Work on Your Story!

He/she who has the best story wins!

In life!
In business!
The White House!

Consider the following:

“A key—perhaps the key—to leadership is the effective communication of a story.”—Howard Gardner, Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership

“Leaders don’t just make products and make decisions. Leaders make meaning.”—John Seely Brown, Xerox PARC

“Management has a lot to do with answers. Leadership is a function of questions. And the first question for a leader always is: ‘Who do we intend to be?’ Not ‘What are we going to do?’ but ‘Who do we intend to be?'”—Max De Pree, Herman Miller

“The essence of American presidential leadership, and the secret of presidential success, is storytelling.”—Evan Cornog, The Power and the Story: How the Crafted Presidential Narrative Has Determined Political Success from George Washington to George W. Bush

“You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend or not.”—Isabel Allende

“We are in the twilight of a society based on data. As information and intelligence become the domain of computers, society will place more value on the one human ability that cannot be automated: emotion. Imagination, myth, ritual—the language of emotion—will affect everything from our purchasing decisions to how we work with others. Companies will thrive on the basis of their stories and myths. Companies will need to understand that their products are less important than their stories.”—Rolf Jensen, Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies

“The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind—computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind—creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people—artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers—will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”Dan Pink, A Whole New Mind

“In Denmark, eggs from free-range hens have conquered over 50 percent of the market. Consumers do not want hens to live their lives in small, confining cages. They are willing to pay 15 percent to 20 percent more for the story about animal ethics. This is classic Dream Society logic. Both kind of eggs are similar in quality, but consumers prefer eggs with the better story. After we debated the issue and stockpiled 50 other examples, the conclusion became evident: Stories and tales speak directly to the heart rather than the brain. After a century where society was marked by science and rationalism, the stories and values are returning to the scene.” —Rolf Jensen/The Dream Society: How the Coming Shift from Information to Imagination Will Transform Your Business

(FYI: We have just posted a new “Special Presentation”: “The Power Is the Story.”)

I have concluded that “the brand” is encompassed by “the story.” There is a slide in the new Special Presentation that simply reads: Story > Brand.

Storytelling is a refined art. Maybe it comes naturally to your or my 79-year-old Grandpa, but it didn’t/doesn’t to me! I WORK LIKE HELL AT IT!

Do you ever make “presentations”?
I bet the answer is, “Yes.”

Well … STOP.

I stopped years ago.

I DO … for pay, no less than … TELL STORIES.

As I prepare I am conscious … 100 PERCENT OF THE TIME … of the evolving story, of the plot, the narrative that unfolds.

For example: Regardless of the intensity of the urging, I never submit my presentations ahead of time. That’s because I rework them—keep refining the plot, the flow, the rhythm—until moments before I go on stage. I suspect that in the last few hours before a speech, I go through my “script” well over 100 times.

Your task—TODAY—is a short story.
Your current project is … a story.
Your career is … a story.


(More to come.)

Tom Peters posted this on October 15, 2004, in Success Tips.
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