Unlock the Magic in Your Story Now

Get the Free 20 questions to Ask Before Launching Your Idea workbook when you sign up for updates.

Get the Free 20 questions to Ask Before Launching Your Idea workbook when you sign up for updates.

Articles filed in: Story Skills

On Being Valued

A graphic designer works for decades to master the tools of her trade. Not just the design programs and fonts she uses, but her discernment, her eye and her empathy—the intangibles that clients value in the end result. Things the designer doesn’t add as line items on her invoice.

Value creation isn’t only about what’s exchanged in a transaction—the logo, the sandwich or the software. Value is more than the usefulness of things. Value is about utility and desirability.

If we want to be valued for both the skills that differentiate us and the work that brings us joy, then we must find ways to articulate that value to our customers. Better stories create value.

Image by Ionut Coman

Stories Make Us Stronger


In my work with entrepreneurs and companies who want to get better at telling their story, I see patterns emerging. The companies who have a mechanism for finding, owning and sharing their stories, build strong cultures. I believe there are parallels between what I’ve witnessed in organisations and research into how stories make individuals stronger.

Almost a decade ago, researchers from Emory University published the findings of a study about the impact of knowing family history on children. Up until then, the effect of intergenerational stories on children’s wellbeing had not been measured.

The Emory researchers set out to do that, using what they called, the ‘Do You Know Scale’—a list of twenty questions about family history.

Unsurprisingly, they discovered that; ‘teens who knew more stories about their extended family showed ‘higher levels of emotional well-being, and also higher levels of identity achievement, even when controlling for general level of family functioning.’

Following the publication of a New York Times article that mentioned the study, the researchers were inundated with requests for the twenty questions. Many readers assumed they’d make their children resilient by simply teaching them the answers to the questions.

But as Marshall P Duke, one of the researchers pointed out. ‘Correlation is not causation. Simply knowing the answers to questions will not produce the good outcomes. It is not what is known that is the critical factor, but how the children came to know it. The researchers believe the process of making time to sit with each other and share stories is the causational factor.’

The bottom line is we build more resilient families, companies and communities when we know who we are. We get stronger together when we prioritise finding, owning and sharing our stories.

If you’d like to work on your story, find out more about The Story Skills Workshop I’m launching in collaboration with Seth Godin soon.

Image by Marissa Price

The Flipside Of Persuasion


All marketing begins by being curious about why people do what they do.

What drew that woman to the beautifully packaged candles?
Are customers who ask for assistance more likely to buy than those who don’t?
Why did the mother put that box of cereal back on the shelf after reading the label?
What stories do parents tell their children about money when they ask for something?
Why is the chocolate aisle the busiest spot in the supermarket on a winter evening?

Sales and marketing are as much about understanding, as they are about persuading.
Marketing works best when we care enough to empathise with the people we hope to serve.

Image by Tristan Colangelo

The Inner Scorecard

We regularly measure our status, progress and success against others. It’s no wonder.

We’ve been subjected to comparison since our parents bragged about when we got our first tooth. At school, the race to see who could collect the most gold stars was on from day one.

We are acutely aware of what makes us remarkable in the eyes of others. We have learned to live and work by, what Warren Buffet calls, an outer scorecard—often at the expense of doing what’s right, and what’s right for us.

If what’s on our inner scorecard grounds us, we must get into the habit of understanding and prioritising those things. Inner scorecards are essential for individuals and organisations alike.

What are you proud of that others would find unremarkable?

What’s on your inner scorecard?

Image by Volkan Olmez

The Value Shift


Sally studied Film and TV at college. She wants to be a director one day. But that’s a distant goal. In the meantime, she’s decided to put the skills she learned in college to work. Sally built a website and started working for friends of friends on their promotional business videos.

Sally is building her portfolio and has clients who are thrilled with the results. But she is less than thrilled with the filming and editing process. Over time, Sally’s realised the thing she loves best about her work is everything she does before she picks up the camera.

Her gift is getting her clients to open up about why they do what they do, not what they do. The reason Sally’s films are so good is because of the unbilled hours she spends with the client before filming begins. It’s hard to explain that to most people and it’s just as hard to charge for it.

What most clients pay Sally for—the deliverable, is that five minutes of video footage. But what Sally dreams of doing and being paid for is finding stories worth telling.

It’s easier for Sally to sell the outcome—the video, than it is to market her process and the impact of her work. So, she defaults to doing what’s easy and ends up selling videos in one-minute increments to clients who don’t understand or pay for her genius.

People happily pay for the tangible. But if the tangible—the logo, the report or the cup of coffee, is a fraction of the value we create, then we need to get better at selling the intangible.

It’s not unusual to wake up one day and find that the work people pay us for isn’t the work we intended to do. It’s our job to fix that, by telling the right story to the right people.

Is the work people pay you for the work you want to do?

Image by Vanilla Bear Films

Reaching Resonance


Many of us spend the majority of our time thinking about what people want to hear.

And while it’s important to understand your audience, it’s equally important to remember what you have to say, as only you can say it.

Of course, you want to make a bigger impact and reach more people.

But the impact you make will depend on your ideas resonating with the right people—not just reaching the most people. The people who believe in you and your message will enable you to do your best work. You will draw those people to you by clearly making your assertion and stating your intention.

It’s a lot easier to tell true stories over time than it is to keep coming up with new and interesting angles.

What’s the truth you want your audience to know?

Image by Jeremy Bishop

10 Benefits Of Strategic Storytelling


We humans have long recognised that stories are a great way to transfer knowledge and wisdom. We know that better stories result in more resonant messages. But we’re selling storytelling short by putting it in the ‘communications’ box. This limiting belief that story is simply how we impart information means we don’t harness its full potential.

A good story well told helps you to:

1. Communicate with clarity and confidence.
2. Achieve emotional resonance with your audience.
3. Be more persuasive and influential.
4. Consistently act in alignment with your mission.
5. Attract the right people, whether they be customers, employees, volunteers or donors.
6. Inspire people to buy into your mission or get behind your cause.
7. Execute plans as you work towards your vision for the future.
8. Add value to your products, services and company
9. Spread your ideas.
10. Change the culture and create the future you want to see.

Stories do more than help us to tell and sell. Shared narratives are powerful catalysts for change and the building blocks of our culture.

Image by Scooter Lowrimore

Persuade On Purpose, With Purpose

When you were three years old, you knew exactly what to say, and how to say it, to get what you wanted. But somewhere along the line, you became reluctant to use these skills. We all did.

Stories of con men and unscrupulous marketers, manipulating people into doing things that were not in their best interests coloured our judgement about what it meant to be persuasive. Our culture taught us that persuasion was a trick used by people with dishonourable intentions.

But manipulation isn’t a necessary by-product of persuasion. Being persuasive can be a valuable skill used to impact the people we serve. Like any tool or skill, its effect depends on how it’s used. Our intentions matter. An axe can either build something or destroy it, and persuasion can be as much a force for good, as for bad.

If we’re in the business of making things that change people’s lives for the better, we must master the art of persuasion to help people make decisions they’re glad about.

Instead of wondering how we can convince people to buy our product or support our idea, we could ask ourselves what’s at stake for them if they don’t. Then we can be more persuasive on purpose, with purpose and our heads held high.

Image by Annie Sprat

The Myth Of Significance


Lately, we have come to believe in the myth of significance. Put our faith in being chosen, becoming ‘the one’. Striving to be bigger, noticed or more than, while simultaneously recounting a narrative of never enough.

In our minds, significance boasts a title, resides in a corner office, speaks from the centre stage, gaining recognition far and wide.

Significance, though, hides in plain sight. Carrying out seemingly small, unimportant acts, with intention and conviction. Without permission, to rewrite the future

Image by Anders Hellberg, Courtesy of TEIA

How Good Is Your Story?


There’s a reason why this post about how to write a compelling about page is the most visited page on my website and has been since I wrote it almost eight years ago. It’s an ironic and universal truth, that the story we know best is the story we have the least confidence telling—at least when we sit down to write.

We fear saying the thing that nobody cares to listen to. But our fear of saying things that people hear and reject is even greater. So we play it safe and end up looking and sounding like everyone else. It’s not that we can’t tell better stories. It’s that we resist doing it for fear of not being good enough, or worse, right enough.

What’s the difference between a good story and a great story?

A good story tells.
A great story engages.

A good story informs.
A great story moves people.

A good story chronicles events.
A great story invests people in the outcome.

A good story changes how we think.
A great story changes how we feel and what we do.

You already have a good story to tell. It’s how you tell it that makes it great.

Image by x1klima

Send this to a friend