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Experiences Are Best Shared

This reminds me of a story when I was branch manager of a Southern California S&L back in the 1980’s.  My supervisor was Samantha (Sammy) Galluzzo.  Our branch was open every Saturday but Sammy was never available because she went to the City of Hope each weekend.  When I first found out where she was going I wasn’t sure if she was going in for treatment or testing.

One day, she shared with me the reason for her weekly attendance.  She told me that she had had cancer.  She recalled in some detail her weekly trips for chemotherapy.  She said, “The minute I got out of the car and saw the hospital building, where my therapy would take place, I would immediately get sick.”

She continued, “There was a young girl who brought me and the other patients blankets, magazines, and even games to occupy our minds.  She would be so encouraging always saying, “This will soon be over and you will be well and never have to return—I know you will do fine.””

Sammy decided to ask her what cancer she had beaten and her reply was not comforting, “Oh, I’ve never had cancer, I’m just a volunteer.”

Sammy said she felt abandoned at that point.  All the good wishes and encouragement that this young girl had given was useless since she never had the experience.  She told me that she made a prayer that if God spared her she would return.  She would be able to tell others she knew what they were going through because she had also gone through the same treatment.  She would become the light at the end of long dark tunnel.

Well, Sammy was cured and she kept her promise.  Now when she got out of her car she could stare at the building that once made her sick and no longer feel the sickness but the strength to challenge others as a form of encouragement.  Hidden in her thoughts were the hopes that she might live long enough to see that building torn down.

Sammy used Strategic Stories from her own life experiences to give hope and encouragement to other cancer patients.  She volunteered, brought in the blankets, magazines and games, but she also brought in something more powerful—her testimony and strength.

I recalled this story because Strategic Stories are more powerful when they come from your own stories, and if you are telling another person’s story then you must be able to identify with the emotions to deliver the message.

Whenever you think, “I’ve been there,” you are hovering over a story that holds not only your experience but your emotions as well.  Leonardo Da Vinci wrote, “There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.”  Knowing which class of people, you are addressing, while understanding the real obstacle restricting movement forward are all part of Strategic Storytelling.

See you next week with more Strategic Story tips.

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Answer The Why!

Continued from Tuesday’s blog.

There is at least a good dozen books on the shelves today explaining how to tell your story for your business.  They center from writing a story to branding an image.  However, what is common in all of them is the story format they present.  Generally, a five-segmented format that consists of: Problem, Reaction, Action, Trouble, and Resolution.  William Shakespeare generally wrote 5 acts that mimicked these five-segmented concepts.  But his plays were 2-3 hours long and Strategic Stories are designed and crafted for minutes not hours.

While I really enjoyed Esther K. Choy’s book, “Let the Story Do the Work,” I felt the one element that was missing was the ‘Why.’  Choy did a great job in telling how to craft a story with some great examples; however, the one thing that was understated was the why stories should be told.  In Strategic Storytelling, the WHY is the most important element because it explains, teaches, or directs the listener to an understanding of his problem and the direction he needs to take to solve it.

It was said when you were in the presence of Abraham Lincoln you felt his full attention.  What he was doing was listening very carefully.  After someone spoke he generally paused before he spoke.  Too many people today are already at the gate ready to latch out as soon as the other person takes a breath.  That’s because they already have the answer and were just waiting for an opportunity to deliver it.  Listening is an important skill especially in Strategic Storytelling.

Listening is not a one-way street.  A good listener not only listens to the words but observes the body language (facial expressions, hand gestures, body posture) another topic I will cover in future topics.  Lincoln would only interrupt to clarify a point. When the person completed his request, demand, or anguish then he would speak.  If he decided to use a story for an answer he generally began, “That reminds me of a story I heard . . .”

LincolnIA

Lincoln used metaphors both in his negotiations and persuasive arguments.  I strongly suggest you read his Gettysburg Address.  A two-minute strategic speech that has been admired for the past 155 years.  Compare that to Edward Everett who spoke before Lincoln on that same day.  Everett’s speech lasted two hours.  Lincoln used a Chronological approach to his Gettysburg address.  I will cover seven introduction genre’s tomorrow.  As a master Strategic Storyteller he was, Lincoln ended his presentation with the most powerful punchline in history.  The punchline, not humorous, but so explosive it has been heard down the ages for the past 155 years, “. . .that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Lincoln focused on the living honoring the dead and why their deaths were important. Everett focused on the battle’s place in history.  See you tomorrow.

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Finding the Stories

Without material, you have no story.  So, where do you get the material?  Here are some thoughts.

First think about who will be your audience.  If you cater more to a Western Culture, who speak mostly English, then you will need materials and resources that your audience will understand.  Even though you enjoy writings from Eastern philosophies, like Sun Tzu, your Western audience may not get the point of your story.  There is a way around this and we will discuss this more next week.

If your audience is global, then it is even more important to understand what symbols in a multicultural world will best fit the stories you produce.  Lincoln’s repertoire of stories stretched from the Illinois’ back woods to the hustle and bustle of Washington elites.  From politically correct to obscene.  The key was in timing; knowing when and how to use them and what the ROI would be from the punchline.

Like Abraham, you have a lot of personal stories that you have collected over the years.  Telling a story that doesn’t always put you in the best of light can work for you, because that means you are opening trust and building a relationship.  Heck, we’ve all made mistakes, and when someone makes fun of his/her own short comings it can sometimes build a closer relationship with your audience.  This is key for stand-up comedians who tell stories that their audience can relate to.

Lincoln read books.  He created and developed his Strategic Stories from the Bible and other non-fiction books he borrowed or bought.  Books and stories are what made him a great orator.  John Kennedy was another voracious reader, writer and speaker.

 

Mary Bateson said, “The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.”  Metaphors, for the Strategic Storyteller, are the most powerful tools for persuasive arguments.  Metaphors, if done right can engage and motivate your listener towards a specific action.  When you learn how to tell instead of sell, you will in the end, sell even more.

metaphorsfree

Reader’s Digest has a host of short and long stories that don’t take much time to read.  Here is one I enjoy.  How would you use this story?

A pastor decided one Saturday to call on a new parishioner.  When he got to the parishioner’s home he saw a car in the driveway.  He knocked and knocked on the door with no one response from within.  So, he took out a small business card and wrote on back, ‘Revelations 3:20’ and stuck it on the door.  It read, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he will with me.”

The next day as he was counting the offering, he found a message on his collection card, “Genesis 3:10” It read, “And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked.”

See you Wednesday.

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Making The Connection

In the morning, I enjoy playing a game of Sudoku.  Sudoku is a popular logic puzzle that teaches about patterns and connections.  As I play this game, it tends to focus my mind and open it at the same time.  As I was playing it this morning I started to think about Abraham Lincoln.  Sudoku has a connection to President Lincoln?  Yes, let me explain.

In Sudoku, you start off with a 9 x 9 grid, which is further broken down into 9 smaller grids of 3 x 3.  The game comes partly solved with numbers randomly scattered throughout the larger grid (Fig. 1).  Your job is to find the missing numbers so that each smaller grid contains the numbers 1 through 9, while making sure the larger grid also gets filled with the numbers 1 through 9 horizontally and vertically.  No number can repeat horizontally or diagonally when finished (fig 2.)

Sudoku Fig1                       Sudoku Fig2

Fig 1: New Puzzle                                                             Fig 2: Completed Puzzle

Okay, you say, that’s interesting but what does Sudoku have to do with President Lincoln?  Okay, okay I’m getting to it.  Sudoku is about finding patterns, and like the game of chess there are known patterns that are sometimes discovered as you play though the game.  Once a pattern is established you start to make new connections to solving the puzzle.

Leonardo da Vinci wrote, “To develop a complete mind:  Study the art of science; study the science of Art, learn how to see.  Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

Abraham Lincoln was a master storyteller.  He gathered his stories from his past experiences, from other storytellers, from books, and from the Bible.  There didn’t seem to be a situation where Lincoln didn’t have a story to tell.  He is known for his stories that entertained, but he also excelled in delivering Strategic Stories that could change the direction of a river.

There are several examples on how Lincoln deflated his opponent’s arguments or diffused some opponents attack with just a quick story.  He used his stories to win arguments, votes, and to persuade changes that still affect us to this day.  Lincoln realized that when confronted with a daunting situation he would use a story to make a connection that would persuade his argument.

Newton Bateman, an educator and close friend of Lincoln, recalled that Mr. Lincoln “knew how to select and arrange the material, what to put in the fore-ground, what in the background, what to set up as the central figure, and how to make all converge towards the final climax. He knew how to whet curiosity just enough to hold the attention of all to the end, without giving the least clue as to the nature of the final explosion; and he especially excelled in that supreme generalship which enables an accomplished story-teller to keep his reserves out of sight till the opportune moment…”

Want to increase your visibility, leads, and profits?  Then tune in this week as I break down Lincoln’s storytelling patterns that will make successful connections for your business ventures.

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Choosing the Right Words

Two thousand years ago, Aristotle, identified a pattern and created a formula or template for what he felt was the perfect story.  He broke down storytelling into three distinct parts:

  1. Ethos is Greek for Credibility, which constitutes 30%.
  2. Pathos is Greek for emotions, which constitutes 50%
  3. Logos is Greek for logic, which constitutes 20%.

Today, we cover the topic of logic; however, Aristotle’s definition of logic is quite different from today’s definition.  Logic originally meant: “The Word” or “what is spoken.”  The choice of words in a story are very important, it is part of the reasoning support that creates a relationship.

As an Educator\Director, I’m often asked why Shakespeare’s language is so hard to understand?  To answer that I must remind people that the stories are 500 years old.  Words over the centuries have changed meaning.  Shakespeare’s words are well chosen and logical, but the presentation has changed from descriptive words to today’s short sound bites.

According to Aristotle, words identifying emotions are 50% of a strategic story.  In lab brainimagingexperiments speakers and listeners have their brain activity monitored.  When a speaker tells a story regarding an emotional event, his brain lights up parts of the brain (sensory, motor, memory, emotions, etc.)   Interesting enough the brains of the subjects listening likewise light up in tandem meaning—everyone is on the same page!

If the dopamine and Oxytocin are activated (see The Perfect Story) then credibility can be established, because there is trust and mutual emotional understanding.

This brings us now to the logic.  The words chosen are only part of storytelling.  Words must be chosen carefully to convey the emotional state the speaker is trying to establish.  How words are also spoken can be more important than the word itself.  This I learned while taking professional classes in Shakespeare language delivery.

Body language, hand gestures, facial expressions, voice tones and presentation are all part of the Strategic Storytelling system.  As we journey together, I will be adding and teaching more on this.  I’ve also been asked to create videos, which I’m in progress doing now.

Dodge&MLK

Just a week ago, Super Bowl 51, played out, and like most people watching the game they were also watching the commercials.  Images, words, and music are well chosen since these commercials cost their sponsors $5 million dollars for 30 seconds.  The one commercial that received an immediate negative response was from the Dodge commercial using in its background the words of Dr. Martin Luther King.  Twitter went hot as negative reaction to using Dr. Kings words to sell a car.  The words were good, the emotion established, but establishing the relationship—well let’s just say the Chrysler marketing team fumbled on their credibility, which is 30% of their story.

I write my blog with a maximum of 500 words.  This would take about 3.5 minutes to read out loud.  I am also interested to connect with you to answer your questions on how to develop your own Strategic Story presentation.

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The Story That Took A City

Yesterday, we discussed how emotions affect the human brain through storytelling.  Today, I will cover the second principle of Aristotle’s storytelling principles—Credibility.  Credibility means: The quality of being trusted and believed in.  According to Aristotle this attribute composed 20% of the presentation.

I could safely say; most people have heard about the Trojan War.  The Greek warrior hero, Achilles, and the Trojan champion, Hector.  The Trojan war lasted 10 years, about the same amount of time the U.S. was at war with Vietnam.  In both cases, at least according to, “The Post,” the American military knew they weren’t going to win.  The Greeks had the same idea.  They hoped to starve out Troy, but it didn’t work.

Both sides, at the end of ten years, left the enemies shores.  America returned to rebuild.  The Greeks returned to destroy the city and plunder all of Troy’s wealth.  If I ask people how did the Greeks win most will say, “They built a wooden, and the Trojans brought it into their city—and the rest is history.

The what, the wooden horse, and the how, bringing the horse in, are well known, but no one knows the why?  What convinced the Trojans to bring in the horse?  The answer came from one man who used a Strategic Story to convince the Trojans to bring the horse in.  In fact, the man’s name was written into Shakespeare’s plays, he was placed in the 8th level of Hell in Dante’s Inferno, and Niccolò Machiavelli described him in his book, “The Prince.”  Who was he?  A Greek officer named Sinon.

Homer made it clear in his story, “The Iliad and Odyssey,” that Sinon was the real hero.  After ten years of failing to breach the wall, Sinon came upon an idea.  Build the horse, which was a symbol of Troy, and put into its belly 30 soldiers.

Problem #1:  How do we get the horse in?

Problem #2: What if the Trojans burn the wooden horse?

Sinon had a plan.  The Greek ships would leave and leave only him behind, half naked, no weapons.  He would tell a strategic story and get the Trojans to move the great horse into the city.

When the Greeks left, Trojan scouts reported back to palace.  All came out cautiously.  Sinon waited patiently by the horse.  The Trojans approached slowly.  When finally confronted, Sinon told them he had deserted.  He told them that the horse was built to the gods to protect the Greek voyage home.  Sinon went further to tell them to burn the horse because any city protecting the horse would prosper from the gods.

Sinon

 

 

Sinon was tortured and yet held to his story.  Finally convinced he was telling the truth they embraced him and took both him and the horse in.  The emotions established, and now the credibility had been confirmed.

 

 

Even though the story centers on deceit, a fact of war, without Sinon’s credibility Troy wouldn’t have disappeared.  Tomorrow, Logic brings it all together.

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The Perfect Story

From the time we’re born, the human brain works hard in organizing patterns.  Patterns of images, patterns of speech, patterns of thought. The brain attaches feelings and emotions to those images.   It processes images not words.  If I said the word, ‘KITA,’ your brain may sense a word soundly like kitty; however, it is Swahili for ‘horse.’  Once a word is attached to an image the brain moves to make other connections.   Our brain is naturally hot-wired to identify images and patterns.  Storytelling is perfect for both communication and learning.

Two thousand years ago, Aristotle, identified a pattern and created a formula or template for what he felt was the perfect story.  He broke down storytelling into three distinct parts:

Aristotle

  1. Ethos is Greek for Credibility, which constitutes 30%.
  2. Pathos is Greek for emotions, which constitutes 50%
  3. Logos is Greek for logic, which constitutes 20%.

I purposefully have developed this blog into smaller chunks of 500 words so that the main idea can be quickly absorbed.  We will cover emotions today and the next two blogs will focus on credibility and logic.

Leonardo Da Vinci wrote, “The principles for the development of a Complete Mind:  Study the science of Art.  Study the Art of Science.  Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

Let’s look at the science of Art, or in our case—Strategic Storytelling.

Modern Neuroscientist have been exploring the human brain for the past 50 years.  They have used MRi scanners and other technology to map the human mind.  Physiologist have discovered that the human brain releases certain hormones when emotional events are activated. Six of these hormones are: Dopamine, Serotonin, Cortisol, Endorphin, Adrenaline, and Oxytocin.  I will discuss the two key ones.

HappyBrain

The first is dopamine.  This natural drug is associated with attention, motivation, short-term memory tasks.  Dopamine helps the listener to focus or pay attention.  Think when you are at the movies.  Your focus is on the screen, not on the people around you.  The movie captures your emotions visually, because it is a story.

Another example: I tell you I’m about to give you a phone number.  I will say it only once.  If you call this number within one minute of my telling you, you will win one million dollars.  If the reward is worth it, dopamine will be released to aide in your short-term memory.

The second natural drug is Oxytocin.  This is also known as the ‘Trust’ drug.  It is a n natural drug that we humans experience when we experience mutual social bonding and at higher levels sexual pleasure.  It is released when you ‘like’ someone or feel safe around a person.

Together Dopamine and Oxytocin are very important in strategic storytelling.  I call them the ‘DO’ mix.  The DO mix transforms a speech from a rehearsed pitch into a flowing strategic storytelling venture.

In my next blog, I will talk about the importance of credibility.  How to build it and how to incorporate it into your strategic story.