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Articles filed in: Story Skills

On Influence


Many of us go through life feeling powerless to change things. After all, not everyone has leadership status or power conferred upon them. We sometimes believe that influence is a top-down construct—that we can have the most influence from a position of authority.

Let’s challenge that assumption.

Think about someone whose impact helped change how you see the world.

My uncle Larry was that person for me. He was the youngest of my grandmother’s eleven children—born with a genetic disorder that caused many health issues throughout his life and his premature death. Larry never knew his father, who died as he lay sleeping in bed next to him and my grandmother when he was a year old.

When he was thirteen, Larry’s headmaster told him he was too tall to be at school and instructed him to leave. That was the end of his formal education. It was hard for him to find manual work because he was often sick. He learned to love reading and was curious about the world. He chain-smoked and spent hours tinkering with big motorbikes.

Larry introduced me to the library when I was seven. I grew up in a house with no books, so joining the library changed everything. Larry was the one who unlocked the magic of books for me. He taught me to play chess and ride a bike without training wheels. When I went with him to his outpatient hospital appointments, we sat in the canteen over lukewarm tea and Club Milk biscuits watching doctors and nurses coming and going in the corridors. ‘You could be a doctor or a nurse one day,’ Larry said. He was the person who encouraged me to expect the most for and from myself.

I’m willing to bet the people who’ve had an impact on you rarely had the authority to do so. Each one of us, regardless of our status, can choose to be an encourager—an agent of possibility for others.

Image by Seth Stoll

Stories For Good


Stories are our most persuasive technology. The stories we tell can be powerful catalysts for change. But the stories that silence us are the most potent of all.

The stories we choose to believe and believe in are the making of us.

We can use our voices to raise the voices of those whose stories have been ignored.

We can choose the narratives that survive and thrive.

We can use stories for good.

Image by Tamarcus Brown

To Whom It May Concern


When an aspiring author is pitching her work to a publisher or agent, she needs to address the agent directly.

In her query letter, it’s not enough to be aware of her book’s strengths—she must also know who it’s for and why this particular agent will care enough to read the first few chapters.

It doesn’t matter what idea you’re selling—it could be a logo, financial services or behaviour change, the same rules apply.

You’ll always get a better result when you open your pitch with the words, ‘Dear Someone Specific’ in your mind.

Act as if you’re writing a letter to a person you know, not a marketing message. Because you are.

Image by Green Chameleon

Your Goal Is To Matter To The People You Serve


I once worked with a startup in the financial services industry. The foyer of their office building was all polished floorboards, high white walls and minimal seating. Inspirational magazines were strategically arranged on low tables, next to the espresso machine.

The walls were completely bare apart from a big decal that declared how many customers the company had acquired. Proudly serving a million customers, it read.

That number was the story the company’s leadership team chose to tell. It was a story about growth, success and their upward trajectory. The goal was to build trust with visitors and excitement among the team. The number said something about the company’s values and aspirations, but it didn’t tell the whole story.

As part of our work together, I helped them to find and amplify individual customer stories. They went from talking about how many people they served to showing how they helped one small business at a time. Finding, owning and sharing their stories enabled them to demonstrate that they were not just a company that measured—they were a company that mattered.

That opportunity is open to all of us.
What stories can you tell today to show people why your work matters?

*Today is the last day to enrol in The Story Skills Workshop. You can join us at the special discounted rate for my blog readers using this link. Here are some of the stories of the people we’ve helped to become better storytellers.

Image by Hayley Phelps

The Medium, The Message AND The Messenger


We know that when it comes to persuasive communication, it isn’t just the message that matters. How and where we deliver the message helps it to resonate and to spread.

Speechwriters can write eloquent words which our leaders are instructed to deliver, but message only lands when it’s spoken with conviction.

When it comes to convincing people to buy into our ideas, we must consider what we want to say and how we will show up to say it.

If we’re going to tell better stories we need to become better storytellers.

Great storytellers craft the message, use the right medium and most importantly practise their delivery. These are skills we all need now more than ever.

*Enrollments for The Story Skills Workshop are open now. You can join now using this special discount link for my blog readers.

Image by Mitchell Luo

What Great Storytellers Know


Think about the last time you were influenced or persuaded by a message. What was it that changed your mind, opened your heart or compelled you to act? I can guarantee it wasn’t facts or data alone.

The most effective way to move people to act is by telling them a story.

These past weeks, what enabled world leaders to persuade us that it was necessary to close borders, ground aircraft, shut businesses and stay home, wasn’t just data—it was stories. Stories are hands down our most persuasive technology.

As we navigate and shape the future we want to see, we will need to tell better stories and become more story skilled.

The Story Skills Workshop is back by popular demand. If you want to learn and practice what great storytellers know, you can join using this special discount link for my blog readers.

Find out more about what people who have taken the workshop say about how it has helped them.

I’m looking forward to helping you to tell stories that inspire others. I hope you’ll join us.

Image by Kate Triffo

How To Save A Story


I had so much fun talking about how to save a story, with my friend and colleague Michael Bungay Stanier on his new podcast.

Some of the things we talked about were:

  • The anatomy of a great story
  • Building resilience, trust, and connection through everyday storytelling
  • Why storytelling allows you to navigate the present and create a path to the future
The Story Skills Workshop is back by popular demand next week. You can sign up to be notified when enrollments open using this form.

Here’s to telling stories that help us shape the kind of future we want to see.

Image by Nathan Rogers

The Captive Vs. The Captivated

When people are given the microphone or stand on a stage, they have our attention, we listen. They have a captive audience for eighteen minutes, an hour or maybe a day—if they’re lucky.

Here’s the thing, you don’t need a captive audience to be heard. You need better true stories, well told. You don’t have to rely on luck to tell better stories, you can do it with intention and practice—by design.

The world is waiting, not to be held captive, but to be captivated by new voices—for the hopeful messages and stories, each of us has to tell.

You don’t need permission to take the stage. You need to find and practice telling stories that matter.

*Today is the last day to register for the current session of The Story Skills Workshop.
Here is a special link for my blog readers to join us.

Image by Tommi Boom

Influence Vs. Impact


In a world where attention has become both currency and commodity, it’s tempting to believe there’s a direct correlation between influence and impact.

The modern definition of an influencer is someone who can persuade people with their recommendations. But it turns out, the people who have the greatest impact are not necessarily the people with the most influence.

Our impact isn’t only measured in crude metrics like attention.

Think about the people who have had the most impact on your life—a patient teacher, a caring friend or a wise mentor. These people likely made a difference, with something they continually did, not just something they once told you to do.

Change happens when more people seek to be less influential and more impactful.
We get to choose which matters most.

*We’ve opened The Story Skills Workshop again this week.
If you’re ready to increase your impact, I hope you’ll join us.

Image by Monika Kosub

Are You Ready To Find Your Voice?


Eleven years ago, as I was pivoting my business, I began reading a new book. I was barely two paragraphs in when the following sentence stopped me in my tracks.

‘Either you’re going to tell stories that spread, or you will become irrelevant.’

Those words, written by my friend and colleague, Seth Godin, over a decade ago still hold true today. They inspired me to find my voice, own my story and invest in becoming a better storyteller.

Eight bestselling books later and ten years after I first read those words, Seth and I built and launched The Story Skills Workshop. We’ve been blown away by the impact it’s had on the thousands of people who have taken it.

We’ve just opened the workshop again today. If you’re looking for a proven, effective, powerful way to find your voice and your stories, I hope you’ll join us.

My blog readers can register using this discount link.

To find out more visit The Story Skills Workshop and hear what others are saying about how the workshop impacted them and their work.

Are you ready to find your voice, own your stories and create the impact you want?

Image by Wonderlane