Strategic Story

What is Strategic Storytelling-Part 3

“The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.”

We think in Metaphors.  A metaphor is a form of figurative language which applies non-literal descriptions in order to draw comparisons between two otherwise unrelated things.  Neuroscience brain research has demonstrated that we think in pictures not in words.   Words are abstract like numbers.  Metaphors, on the other hand, create a vivid image that people immediately connect to emotionally.

SpicesA picture of spices with its wide range a vivid colors, textures, and tastes can add flavor to your brand, product or service.  Spices add  piquancy, and sometimes a little heat to a meal.  If you were given the above picture to describe your product or service how would you connect it?

KnightImages play instantly into the imagination of your viewer.  For example, in the above image, do you see just chess pieces, or do you see your company facing your competition and pausing to develop and craft your strategic story, which indicates your next strategic move.

RhinoAsk yourself what would happen if another animal like a cheetah, elephant or hippopotamus were used instead of the Rhino.  What does the Rhino stand for in this image?  What would the other three animals represent?  How would that change the metaphor for the car’s construction, comfort, strength, and durability?

Artwork

Metaphors help in giving your audience a different perspective on the benefits you offer.  Sometimes people only see the same product\service that can be bought through different companies.  For example, if you are a real estate agent.  You help people buy and sell houses.  But there are hundreds of agents doing the same thing (center object).  What separates you from the others is your story.  How does “The Thinker,” from Rodin differ from the statue of Venus De Milo?  The metaphor of the image is connected emotionally to your product or service.

ShoesTwo shoes one dressy the other relax.  They look about the same size so they represent one person’s life style.

What does the shoe on the left represent as oppose to the shoe on the right?  Did you notice that the dress shoe is on the left side and could represent the left brain:  Logical, abstract, linear thinking, business, facts, mathematics, and thinking in words?  On the other hand, the right side represents the right side of the brain:  Imagination, intuition, rhythm, day dreaming, holistic thinking, the Arts, and fun.  As you can see, there are many creative ways to interpret the images to your needs.

In the end, it is about bringing more visibility to your site or business and thereby increasing your leads for future sales.  It is also understanding how to add emotions through the use of metaphors.  Your task is now to review your sites and decide if the theme is being played throughout your marketing campaign.  Go back to the question, “Why?” your product or service is important, then ask, “Does this metaphor represent me, or who I want to be, or who people think I am?”

framing

 

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To Change Reality-Change the Story P1

If you want to change reality—then change the story.

Sometimes, it is just a matter of seeing the same story from a different perspective, sometimes the story must be told from a different character in your story, and sometimes, the rules need to be changed. Stories have power to influence, inform, and educate. Maybe it’s time to take time to re-examine your story and retell it.

This week we will explore how individuals or companies were able to move forward into positions of influence by just changing their story. Let’s start back in the 1980’s, under Steve Jobs, the Apple mission statement, which was his company’s story was, “Man is the creator of change in this world. As such, he should be above systems and structures, and not subordinate to them.”

I think, back in the 80’s, this statement was ringing true with many people who were now starting to use more and more technology. For example, when you bought software it generally came with a lot of technical instructions, same with the computer and its components. The joke being played around during that time was that you needed a degree in engineering or be a programmer to understand the instructions.


In the 1980’s, there were many computers: Atari, Commodore, Texas Instruments, Kaypros and more. Compatibility and standardization did not exist across the board in these early years.

imac-vs-dellBy 1996, Apple was in a mess. Leadership was weak, Apple was searching for a new OS for the new millennium, and internal strife for recognition and power had brought Apple to a grinding halt. In 1996, Jobs returned and immediately changed the story. It was simple in its design and complex in its operation—a new term “Simplexity.”
Simplexity refers to an idea, or concept that appears to be simple to understand, yet is quite complex in its design structure. The PC back in 90’s was not user friendly. The back of the PC had multiple cables requiring multiple outlets for the monitor, PC, printer, and modem. Using the computer was not easy for the average person either. Cryptic commands and symbols were common.

Apple since that time has changed their story to, “Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.”

Steve Jobs
FILE – This 1998 file photo provided by Apple, shows Apple CEO Steve Jobs pose for a photo with an iMac computer. Apple on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011 said Jobs has died. He was 56. (AP Photo/Apple, Moshe Brakha, File)

Jobs announced the simplicity of his machine with a new story advertisement– “There’s No Step Three.” Mac’s screen icons were easy to identify, and you didn’t have to type commands anymore—just use your mouse and click. Mac’s sales were soon back in the playing field and its momentum hasn’t lost ground.

A lot has been written about Steve Jobs, but I think in the end, it was not technology that changed our reality but his story. A story that captured people because they wanted to move from the complexity of getting the job done to the simplicity of being creative. So, how will your story impact the world?

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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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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.