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 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.


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:


  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.


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.


The Adventure First

It may have been the face of Helen of Troy that launched one thousand ships, but it was the story of the enviable Trojan War that launched 3,000 years of strategic learning opportunities. More on this later. Storytelling is more than entertainment; it can be used as an opportunity to explain complex thoughts and concepts. It creates engagement, exploration, and discoveries. Strategic Stories are Simplexity!


For example, it was Sir Garci Rodrigo Ordonez de Montalvo, at age fifty-five who told stories of the beautiful queen of California, Calafia, whose hidden kingdom of gold waited for the right man who could win her attention.  Rodrigo’s stories included monsters and deadly traps, resembling the adventures Harry Potter endured five hundred years later.  Rodrigo stories did more than just fill the imaginations of his listeners, it filled them with an ambition to leave the safety of their homes to explore the unknown with other Conquistadors for discovery and fame.

What Rodrigo did to his hearers was to paint an emotional canvas of beautiful women, filled with adventures and gold. The conquistadors that left Spain were not men in their 40’s, but young boys of 15 to 24 years-of-age.  They were looking for Glory and ways to become men of means, and rich men at that.

Now, what would have happened if Rodrigo would have explained the details to his attentive flock regarding the long 6 – 8-week voyage to the new world.  A voyage that could be tainted with unexpected storms, poor food, scurvy, fever, and even death.  What if he added that once in the New World they would be exhausted and maybe sick.  Not to mention the hidden killer mosquitos, and other deadly insects and snakes that if bitten could mean a death sentence, or maybe death by a jealous comrade.


NO,no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dread time.”  Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The Gryphon’s (on right) remarks are what Strategic Storytelling targets.  They’re designed and crafted to grab attention and make immediate emotional connections.  They have a point that is almost subliminal in nature, because the explanation is understood through imagery created within the story.

Strategic Stories are designed and crafted to persuade the listener into taking an action or accepting a prescribed objective.  The word, Strategic, means, “Carefully designed or planned or serve a particular purpose or advantage.”  The Story does not necessarily have to fit the definition I just proposed; however, the story should represent visual imagery that makes the connections to your listener with three key elements:  Emotion, Logic, and Credibility.

If done correctly, the strategic story helps motivate a person to see the benefits your product or service offered, while at the same time establishing a relationship of trust.  In the end, it’s not about making the sale, but establishing a goal of word of mouth that will continue to develop prospects and profits.

So how do you construct a Strategic Story?  I’ll begin that adventure on my next blog.


Let Me Share A Story

What is Strategic Storytelling?

Strategic Storytelling is designed and crafted to:
1. Explain yourself visually and with the right emotions.
2. Explain abstract or complicated ideas.
3. Establish a working relationship and leads.
4. Increase active engagement towards your point of view.
5. Motivate your listener towards a specific course of action

Strategic Storytelling is a form of persuasive speaking. However, instead of pressing hard for facts, proofs, and data the arguments are arranged so that the listener is taken on a short story-formatted journey towards understanding and engagement.

Why Story formats?

Stories are likely to be less resisted.


Today’s neuroscience’s research confirms that the human brain is hot-wired for learning through stories. For example, experiments in math word problems have shown that when a story is incorporated as part of the problem, 70% of the students will solve the problem as oppose to 20% when a story is not included.

Stories reveal what makes your message unique.


A strategic story is designed and crafted to tell why your product or service is either unique or better than your competition.  This uniqueness may come from past experiences of your customers, your experiences, or proven research.

Stories shape raw data into meaning


Raw data must be researched for patterns, filtered, and then boxed into a graph that might explain its history, or to predict a future event. Graphs and numbers can still be cold and abstract, whereas, if the data is put into a story format the client can quickly understand and feel confident in using the data to come to better understanding your conclusion.

Stories are the emotional clue that makes the connection.


Every great story has a protagonist, a hero, an antagonist, an enemy, obstacles that must be conquered, and a goal or reward. At the heart of every human is this hardwired program for survival and desire for victory.
It has been shown that people, consciously and unconsciously, view movies to feel something: To laugh, to feel sad, to experience an emotion. Our growth, as humans depend on stories to build us intellectually, psychologically, and spiritually. Stories empower us.

Stories can build trust.


Neuroscientists have studied what happens in the brain when a person is told a story that has an element of emotion attached to it. Scientist have discovered a neurotransmitter called, “Dopamine,” is released into the blood stream. Dopamine helps regulate an emotional response causing the person to focus and be motivated in what you are talking about. This brain chemical also causes the listener to be motivated towards an action that will bring pleasure or security.

Stories must be shared


Stories are not stagnant. They must be retold and passed on to inspire future listeners. Stories that are passed down evolve, change, or recreate their elements depending on the generation and culture. Reading what William Shakespeare wrote 500 years ago to see how his stories have evolved into today’s modern movies, television shows, and literature. Shakespeare’s plays have been translated into over 30 languages, while his poetry has been translated into over 80 languages. Emotions are the glue that binds us through the ages. It is what makes us human.


Back in 1977, the United States launched its first interstellar satellite, the Voyager 1. On board was a LP made of gold and instructions on how to play it. There were symbols and diagrams showing where the little spacecraft had been launched from. On the record were recorded the animal sounds of the planet and a brief one sentence greeting from every language on the planet. This was the beginning of the story, and it was hoped, that this would also become the first chapter in meeting another intelligent life-form. But it all began with an emotional cry into the darkness of space just to say, “Hello, is anyone listening?” Because we want to universe to know our story.
Whether you are a businessman, educator, genealogist, or parent; Here you will learn how to design and craft your story for leads, building trusting relationships, and education. Here you will learn how Strategic Storytelling can engage and motivate your listener(s) towards a specific action or understanding. I believe everyone on this planet has a story to tell, and my goal is help you tell that story. Welcome to my world.