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Whoever Tells The Best Story Wins

What a year 2020 has been for every one of us. For the first time in human history, every nation around the world is working on the same problem. The leaders who earned our trust during these challenging times were the ones who spoke to our hearts, not just our heads. They harnessed the power of stories, our most persuasive technology.

Storytelling is not an art reserved for the chosen few. It’s a skill anyone can get better at with practice. I’m on a mission to help people to tell better stories and use them for good.

The last Story Skills Workshop of 2020 launches today.

You can join us this session special discounted rate for my blog readers.

Here’s what people who took the workshop this past year said about their experience.

Whether you’re navigating changes in your work life or home life, or you’re shifting gears in your business, you’ve got stories to tell. We’re here to help you to tell better stories so you can build the trust and connection with the people you care about and those you seek to serve. I hope you’ll join us.

Image by Emran Yousef

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Walking As Yourself

The legendary British actress, Helen Mirren, says the hardest thing you can do is walk as yourself. She may have been speaking about acting when she said this, but I think her words carry wisdom we can use beyond the stage.

Society conditions us to fit in from a young age. The way to fit in is not to do anything out of the ordinary. By definition, that means ignoring possibilities and opportunities to explore different paths.

But progress, fulfilment and joy are a by-product of exploration.

Ironically, what the world that tries to make us conform needs most from us, is for us to walk as ourselves. To contribute as only we can. To find our voice and follow our path, then to shine a light for others as we go.

Images by Paz Arando

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On Sufficiency


My favourite childhood stories were those written by Laura Ingalls Wilder about her pioneer family and life in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Her family lived on their wits. They were grateful for what they had and prepared for uncertain seasons. In tough times they made do and relied on their skills, but also turned to their community for help.

The world of the Ingalls Wilder books was in sharp contrast to the era of the TV industrial complex I was growing up in. Non-stop advertising taught us not only that what we had wasn’t sufficient. But that somehow we were not sufficient, unless wore the right jeans, looked a certain way and our hair smelled of green apple shampoo.

We lived in a world where homemade was seen as the choice for people with little freedom to choose. A time when it became easier to replace than repair and making do was a sign of not having enough.

Now, in this time, when our movements and choices are restricted, those of us lucky enough to still be healthy and working are relearning what it means to be grateful for what we have. We’re finding joy in reclaiming skills that nourish us. We are rekindling our resilience. And we are remembering that we are more than enough.

Image by Soroush Karimi

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The Limitations Of Labels


Last week, an Australian journalist was quoted in the media as saying that millennial workers lack resilience. She expressed concern over their need for thanks and hugs.

On the same day, our millennial plumber was due to arrive to investigate a leak. Even though we’re isolating during the pandemic, this was an essential repair, and tradespeople were still working.

That morning, he called ahead to let me know he’d be on time. When I opened the door, he was standing on the front doorstep masked-up, next to his new Gen Z apprentice. They were already removing their boots.

‘The last job we were on was messy,’ the plumber explained. ‘We don’t want to trail mud all through your house.’

He made small talk about the only thing anyone is talking about—the virus.

‘A guy working on our last job wasn’t wearing a mask,’ he said. ‘I have heaps in the van. I offered him one, but he wouldn’t take it. It’s up to every one of us to do the right thing.’

The two young men climbed onto the roof. I could hear the older, more experienced one calmly and carefully teaching the younger one as he began to investigate the problem. When they were done, the apprentice asked if he could borrow a dustpan and brush to sweep up before they left.

As they were packing up, I couldn’t help thinking about how much trust I had in these two young men.

Sometimes labels convey meaning. But often they are an unhelpful barrier to mutual respect and shared understanding. The best judge of character isn’t a label prescribed according to the date or circumstances of our birth. It’s how each of us shows up to contribute.

Image by Linus Francis

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Trust And Traction

When we want to get a project off the ground, we are often confused about the best way to achieve our goal.

We believe if we could only reach more people, we’d immediately have traction.

But reach is a poor substitute for the trust of a handful of the right people.

A deep connection trumps fleeting attention every time.

Image by Daniel Funes Fuentes

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A Stake In The Ground


Years ago, when the owner of our local bakery decided to bake only gluten-free bread and cakes, it would have sounded like a risky strategy. Many people would have advised her to sell both conventional baked goods alongside her gluten-free loaves. Instead, she put a stake in the ground.

We are naturally inclined to want to hedge our bets. But it can be liberating to say this is the real work I care about doing. These are the exact people I want to serve.

Those decisions about what’s important to us and how to do our best work can mean the difference between standing out and fitting in. Joy and misery. Success and failure.

Whatever work you do, it’s helpful to reflect on who you want to be to whom.

Image by Maranda Vandergriff

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Storytelling For The Rest Of Us


Every decision you’ve ever made was influenced by a story—every single one. From the decision about whether to wear a mask during a pandemic, to the charities you choose to support.

 A story you heard, the story you believed or that story you told yourself, had an impact on those choices.

If stories are our most persuasive technology, why don’t we do more to put them to work? Why don’t we leverage the power of stories every day in our work and our lives?

Over the past fifty years, we’ve come to believe that storytelling is a professional discipline. A skill for the master storytellers at the Disney’s or the Saatchi and Saatchi’s of the world. We’ve stopped honing the story skills that came so naturally to our ancestors. We’ve forgotten how to tell small, powerful, everyday stories.

I’m on a mission to change that and to help more people leverage the power of storytelling to become their most inspiring selves.

You don’t need an epic story to be a great storyteller. You just need to adopt the posture of a storyteller and to practice the craft. Together with a team of incredible coaches, that’s what I’ve been helping people to do for the past year.

If you want to reclaim your story skills, you can sign up for details about our next workshop.

Image by Étienne Godiard

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We Learn By Doing


When my sons were younger, they loved listening to the straight-talking comedian and radio presenter, Karl Pilkington. One of their favourite Pilkington quotes is:
‘You won’t get anything done by planning.’ They often quoted it to me during exam times when I made hints about the benefits of revision timetables.

I’m not sure if Pilkington ever explained what he meant when he said this, but there’s wisdom in his words. Plans are a necessary starting point for any project. But plans and projections alone won’t get us to where we want to go.

We learn what’s next by making a start, with a leap of faith—by taking that first step.

We build on our experience, not our plans.

We learn by doing.

Image by David Brooke Martin

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Expect The Good


There is no way of knowing if the organic vegetables I bought today were grown without pesticides. But I trust that they were.

When I order gluten-free bread for a friend, I trust my baker has used the right flour.

I believe the chocolate inside the bar labelled ‘fair trade’ is ethically produced.

Every day we rely on millions of people we’ve never met to tell the truth and do the right thing. And they do.

Our culture and our society depend on us expecting the good. And we do.

Image by Neonbrand

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The Case For Storytelling


Every day during the current global pandemic we’ve watched the numbers go up.
We’ve listened to our leaders tell us about the number of active cases.
We’ve seen unemployment figures published in news articles.
We’ve heard about the numbers of lives lost.

Our scientists, experts and leaders keep us informed to convince us of the seriousness of the situation. They need to gain our trust and influence us to act in the interest of the collective good. Without a doubt, we need the rigour of data. But we also need the persuasive power of storytelling to spread these life-saving health messages and measures.

Storytelling is our most persuasive technology.

Hearing a story about one person’s experience has more impact on us than all the data in the world. We humans are hardwired to be influenced by stories. And yet, we are rarely trained in the important skill of storytelling.

Every one of us needs to learn these story skills if we are to inspire change. I want our activists, educators, leaders and scientists to become better storytellers. And I want you to be your most influential and inspiring self so that you can use your stories for good.

Last year Seth Godin and I launched The Story Skills Workshop to help more people like you to harness the power of storytelling. Since then, 5,000 people have taken the workshop. We’re proud of how we’ve helped people like you to become better storytellers.

You can sign up for details about when the workshop opens again here.

We each have the power to tell better stories and create the future we want to see.

Image by Raj

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