How and why “a purposeful story, well told, is the greatest tool for business.”
Others have their own reasons for praising Peter Guber’s book. Here are three of mine. First, I really appreciate the scope and depth as well as the variety of the personal and professional experiences that he shares. Who doesn’t he know? What hasn’t he done, or at least attempted to do? He can thus draw upon an abundance of real-world situations within which to insert observations and lessons-to-be-learned about how to “connect, persuade, and triumph with the hidden power of story.” His unofficial mentors (“voices”) include Muhammad Ali, David Begelman, Jack Canfield, Deepak Chopra, David Copperfield, Steve Denning, Al Giddings, Oscar Goodman, Adolph Hitler, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Jackson, Ervin (“Magic”) Johnson, Kirk Kerkorian, T.H. Lawrence (of Arabia), George Lopez, Nelson Mandela, Dean Martin, John McCain, Mike Milken, Dennis Miller, Rupert Murdoch…and that’s only those whose last names are A-M.
I also appreciate how specific Guber is when explaining how to get listeners’ attention with an unexpected challenge, then how to give them an emotional experience by narrating the struggle to overcome that challenge or to find the answer to the opening question, and finally, how to galvanize listeners’ response with an eye-opening resolution that calls them to action. Drawing upon all his sources as well as his own extensive experience, Guber shares what he has learned about what could be characterized as the strategies for “dramatic persuasion”: seize attention, establish tension with conflict or uncertainty, introduce setting (context, frame-of-reference, background) and the “players” who populate it, establish dominant themes, develop the plot (i.e. story, narrative, journey, progression or regression), and increase tension (with perils, complications, revelations, etc.) until the (pay-off, climax, denouement, etc.) occurs. He also has much of value to say about back-stories, understanding the given audience and how best to frame the material for it, and “leveraging” the senses to maximize emotional involvement. Guber claims, and I agree, that people may think about a decision but, more often than not, their feelings determine what it will be.
Finally, there are dozens (hundreds?) of memorable anecdotes that are both entertaining and informative. For example, soon after Guber became the young studio head at Columbia Pictures, he met with Jack Warner (founder and former chairman of Warner Bros.) and confided that he felt “overwhelmed” by his responsibilities. Warner replied, “Let me tell you a story. Don’t be confused. You’re only renting that office. You don’t own it. It’s a zoo. You’re the zookeeper, and every single person that comes in the office comes with a monkey. That monkey is their problem. They’re trying to leave it with you. Your job is to discover where the monkey is. They’ll hide it, or dress it up, but remember you’re the zookeeper. You’ve got to keep the place clean. So make sure when you walk them to the door, they’re got the monkey by the hand. Don’t let them leave without it. Don’t let them come back until it’s trained and they have solutions to their problem. Otherwise at the end of the day, you’ll have an office full of screaming, jumping animals, and monkeys shit all over the floor.”
Win by Frank Luntz and The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk — Coming for Next Month’s First Friday Book Synopsis, Friday, June 3
This morning, we had a terrific session of the First Friday Book Synopsis. Karl Krayer presented his synopsis of Tell to Win by Peter Guber, reminding us all of the centrality of story… It took me back to my graduate school days, where my professor at USC (Dr. Walter Fisher) taught us the narrative paradigm (Human Communication as Narration was the name of his quite academic book – a terrific book, a more terrific concept). The book that Karl presented was a more popular treatment of the power, the punch, the value of great story-telling – story-telling to win!
I presented my synopsis of Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki. A really practical book (Guy Kawasaki is the king of practical!), it taught us that “Great products, services, organization, and ideas are enchanting. Crap is not.” (a quote from the book). The call is to be enchanting in every interaction, to build the long-term relationships needed for business, and life, success. This was the third book I have presented by Guy Kawasaki — all of them excellent and useful books.
Next month (Friday, June 3), we will present synopses of two more good, valuable, useful books. Karl will present the synopsis of The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk, and I will presnete the synopsis of Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Frank I. Luntz. (This will be the third book written by Luntz that I have selected).
If you are in the DFW area on June 3, come join us. If you can’t be with us, you can purchase our presentations, with the same handouts, from our companion web site: 15minutebusinessbooks.com. Most of the book synopses we have presented over the last few years are available on our site, and the presentations from this morning will be available within a few days.
Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki, and the Hidden Power of Story – Coming for the May First Friday Book Synopsis
We had a wonderful session for the April First Friday Book Synopsis, with presentations of Practically Radical and Change the Culture, Change the Game. Those synopses, with audio + handout, will soon be available on our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.
For May, we have chosen two terrific business best-sellers.
I will present my synopsis of Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki. This will be the third book I’ve presented by Guy Kawasaki, so you can tell I am a big fan. The earlier two books were The Art of the Start (which is an ideal read for anyone starting – starting a new job, a new major project… starting anything important). And later, I presented Reality Check. Enchantment is the first book that I have read “early” in quite a while. I’ve blogged about it a time or two already. You can read the review by Bob Morris of this fine book on our blog here. He ends his review this way:
If asked to recommend one book that should be read by anyone now preparing for a business career or who has only recently embarked on one, I would suggest two: Reality Check and Enchantment.
Karl will present the best-seller Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story by Peter Guber. This book is getting a lot of buzz, and reminds us that story is at the heart of all good communication.
If you are near the DFW area on May 6, I hope you can join us for the May First Friday Book Synopsis – 7:00 am, at the wonderful and beautiful Park City Club.
Here is a recent article featured by the Drucker Exchange (DX), “an ongoing conversation about bettering society through effective management and responsible leadership,” sponsored by The Drucker Institute of Claremont Graduate University. He check out all the resources and sign up for a free online newsletter, please click here.
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Once upon a time, we noticed a growing trend in management circles: More and more people began focusing on the importance of storytelling in organizations.
Next week, for instance, Hollywood executive Peter Guber will drop in to the Drucker Business Forum to talk about his new book, Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story.
The idea that business success springs from telling “a purposeful story,” in Guber’s words, is rooted in the concept that humankind is built to respond favorably to a compelling yarn. Guber theorized in a recent New York Times article “that we respond to story—an aspiring executive’s self-description in a job interview, a digital entrepreneur’s pitch to a potential backer, a team owner’s plea for a city-financed stadium—because we can’t help it. Eons of genetic and cultural programming compel us toward a narrative form with beginnings, endings and moral lessons, whether or not those are in sync with the random ways of the universe.”
Others have picked up on the same concept. In their 2004 book, Storytelling in Organizations, John Seeley Brown, Stephen Denning, Katalina Groh and Laurence Prusak explore how narrative can be used for transferring knowledge, nurturing community, stimulating innovation and preserving values.
Peter Drucker, meanwhile, also understood this. In writing about effective communications, for instance, he noted that “one has to talk to people in terms of their own experience. One has to use carpenter’s metaphors when talking to carpenters, the language of sailors when talking to sailors and so on.”
But in this case, Drucker didn’t just explain to others how to tell stories. He put the notion into practice. “What Drucker did . . . was to quantify the manager’s role, not in some learn-by-rote, restrictive way, but rather in a Churchillian neo-heroic way that would cause the manager to see himself (and later herself) as one who can accomplish things, and in doing so aspire to something greater,” John Baldoni declares in his book Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders. To help do this, Baldoni adds, Drucker “is forever sprinkling his texts with artful images and little stories.”
So, what’s your story? How do you use narratives to manage your organization more effectively?