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Skill Level Beginner
(light music) - Story has always been part of my life. I remember my mother as a teacher reading me stories as I was growing up. I became a storyteller in my early career. And frankly, I think it's the thread that connects me through most of my career. I just believe in the power of story. It's a human center for us. It's how we communicate from generation to generation. It's who we are. And we think in business that story is kind of that superfluous thing you do at the end. Oh, it's kind of fluffy. Yeah, I need a story. My product's so great, but I guess I need a story. Story is essential. It's who you are, what your mission is in the world, why you do it, what you aspire to do. I think everybody needs to tell their story. And so, I always urge teams to bring the kind of story practice into how they work on an individual level. What's your story? You want to really like, have someone think you're crazy when you first meet them, not like, you know, what do you do? What's your story? If somebody asked you today, "What's your story?" what would you say? For me, I think like, okay, small town girl wanted to see the world and learned about change and innovation. Whatever it is, you have a story. I love simple exercises. If you're commuting home on a train tonight, look across, I mean don't stare too much at the person. They may think you're crazy. But what's their story? The flight attendant who's helping you get home tomorrow night on the flight home, what's her story? Just imagine their story. What motivates them? What do they do about their job that they love? I encourage teams to think about what's the story of their product. Give it a name. Imagine who's going to be using it. Create these kinds of archetypes around the user. Maybe one of the users is a sports enthusiast who on the weekends loves to bass fish. What does he do? Like does he have kids? What kind of job does he have? What motivates him? Why is he out there? That helps you connect better to the person you're trying to target and reach. Encourage teams together to have contests about who can come up with the best story about the product and reward them on storytelling. These are little hacks that you can do that you just like, what's your story? If this product had a story, what is it? If that person as a customer, what's their story? I guarantee you it'll start to change the way you look at your job. And don't just delegate it to the story department. Everybody needs to be the story department. (light music) I'm a big believer in this notion of mindshare before marketshare. It's what I've learned as a marketer. It's what I've learned as a storyteller. And I just, I think there are times in the business equation when you know you need to move quickly to make a direct sale. But it's pretty rare for a new product, a new idea, a new marketspace that people know what you're talking about. And so I'm a big believer as a brand builder that your goal is to build a story that people relate to. What you're trying to do is literally carve a little tiny insignia of your brand, your story, yourself in someone's brain. And so to me, a lot of time needs to be thought through of building up what people call mindshare. It's a way of making a connection, of people saying, "Oh, I get the story behind why they're doing it. Oh, I understand the strategy." For us, an example I saw in industry was we saw the digitization of industry, something as simple as calling it the industrial internet. We're not talking about the consumer internet now. We're talking about an industrial internet, all kinds of crazy data. Imagine if your jet engine tweets to you, what does that say? These became stories and ways to kind of carve your message and really, your strategy and the market that was evolving into the minds of your customers, of your employees. And you have to do it repeatedly over and over and over because these are new concepts. So I guarantee you, you show up with a new concept, people aren't going to buy it. They're not going to buy it as a concept. They're certainly not going to buy it as a product unless it's amazingly earth shattering, which few products are at first. They seem crazy. So I always urge companies in telling their story, you're trying to create that relevance, that connection around a story. So you're carving just a little tiny piece of yourself into someone's brain before they open up their wallet and give you a little bit of their budget. (light music) I think a lot about kind of cosmology events or these sort of big events that happen, that really bring a company to its knees. I happened to go through a 9/11 in a business sense. I happened to go through the financial crisis, working in a company that had a huge position in financial services. And these are these moments that bring a business to a halt, to say, "Why are we here? What do we stand for? What's the future?" And I often find the way to get through these is you have to do a couple of things. One, you have to remember where you've been, which is kind of counterintuitive. You're in this crisis moment. These big sort of new stars are aligning these cosmology events and they've deeply impacted your potential future. And so the first thing I think you have to do is go back to the past. Like, where were we great? What's our strength? What's our story that got us here? And how is that going to help us go forward? So you're doing sense-making. I think there's a lot of research that says you can't really go forward until you understand why you've done what you've done. And then you start to declare your aspirations, your strategy, and you build a story around it. Here's a new future. And we know we feel confident we can start to get there because we've always built apps. We've always done financial services. And now we're just going to provide financial services to a different customer base. Whatever the situation is, I'm really just trying to make a case for knowing where you've come from, use that as a base of strength, and then setting a vision for the future that really is a story. It's a strategy that you tell as a story. And those become part of your narrative. (light music)