You Must Tell A Story

Yesterday I had the good fortune to attend a lunch where Arthur Brooks was speaking.  I like his book, The Conservative Heart and recommend it to anyone.  Arthur is always provocative when he speaks. He speaks around 180 times a year, so he gets a lot of practice.  I always seem to glean something from his talks that are also applicable to other things.  Yesterday was no different so I thought I’d pass it along.

On my blog I have talked about “Selling the Why” by Simon Sinek.  It’s a powerful message to get people to think about how to find a way into decision-making processes inside humans.  I tell every entrepreneur to listen to that talk and think about what they are going to say.  It still is great advice, but Arthur caused me to think a bit more deeply about it.

Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to come up with a story using 6 words.  Hemingway was famously economical with words.  Personally, I love his books.  Here is his story:

“For sale.  Baby shoes.  Never worn.”

That’s powerful and evokes all kinds of emotions.  It tells the story and immediately your mind can start to fill in the blanks.

Entrepreneurs need to tell a story about why they are doing what they are doing.  Do not use broad facts and figures.  Bring it home.  Tell a personal story about someone-preferably yourself.  It turns out scientific neurological research has proven that if you want to get two people’s brains in sync, tell a story.

This means if you are in front of a customer, an investor, or someone that you need to win over tell a good short story that reaches right into their limbic brain.  I am guilty of not telling a story.  I am guilty of making stories too long, or uninteresting when it comes to reaching something deep inside a person.  In sales, we describe it as “puking on the customer”.

Find an emotional appeal-one that appeals to fear is usually good.  Fear of missing out in the case of business.  FOMO can drive sales, and FOMO directed at a limbic brain drives stickiness and virality.  Professor Craig Wortman works on this topic in his classes on salesmanship.  It’s hypercritical. The story should permeate everything and have roots in your company culture.

What is your story?