“So how are things?” I asked James. He’s a Marketing Director in a big corporate organisation.
“You know, same old, same old,” came his terse reply.
He quickly rubbed his hand across his face and looked drawn.
“Well if I’m honest, I just feel like I’m going around in circles,” he confided.
“Tell me more about these circles?” I enquired.
By 2011 I’d grown restless. I was working as an International Strategic Marketing Consultant for corporate healthcare companies. Every day was spent planning the future of the next chemical entity. But in the present, there was dearth of heart & soul connection and life seemed to be over-taken by work.
One Saturday my email pinged with an invitation to join a mentorship programme for folk who wanted to be more inspired in business.
I said ‘YES’ and signed-up right away.
Recently, Melissa Clough interviewed me about Influencing With Story for her Fearless Success podcast & video series. We had a blast chatting together and you can watch it here now.
But I want to tell you the intriguing story of how we became friends.
Often I hear people say, “but I have no remarkable stories.” It seems easier to cling to precious power point slides. Like Gollum from Lord of The Rings.
But, it’s a lost opportunity. Because stories engage and move people. And everyone….yes everyone… has a wealth of stories. Often, people don’t see them.
And here’s why.
Goodness gracious! Have you been following all that shenanigans with retailer’s Christmas advertising campaigns?
John Lewis spends £7 million on a tear jerking Man in The Moon story. It’s about elderly folk being lonely at Christmas. They even got Age UK involved.
And as we’re blinking back our tears we spot what looks like a mini version of it. But no! Instead it’s a cheeky spoof by budget retailer Aldi. Unbelievable! And uncomfortably funny, right?
I worked in retail advertising many moons ago. So I can imagine how gutted the John Lewis marketing team must be. That’s despite dubbing Aldi’s satirical advert as flattery.
To add insult to injury Aldi’s parody has been given the thumbs-up by most folk. It’s lauded as an excellent competitive coup.
Aldi’s play could have been seen as churlish. But it wasn’t. It’s attracted tons of positive write-ups.
Why? Are we thirsty for retailer rivalry? Do we love to watch them sock-it to each other. Or is there something else at play? And what, if anything, could John Lewis have done differently?
Have you noticed that since the resurgence of storytelling there are two camps of people?
These folk genuinely embrace storytelling. What they don’t already know about storytelling, they take time to learn. As a result they move people by telling great stories. Be that about brands, strategies, innovations, culture, life lessons and so on.
These people know that storytelling is in vogue. They want the benefits but not the effort. They pay lip-service to it. And seek short-cuts. The most common hack is thinking that the power of story is in the word. Story, like love, peace or joy is much more than a word. Here are two typical story hacks.
It’s a crisp autumn Saturday morning near Shoreditch in London. A twenty-something Urban Viking awakens. Yawning, he rubs his beard. And flexes his sculpted muscles. It’s been a busy week designing motion graphics. Now it’s time for chillin’.
Later he’ll graft hard at the gym. He’s training for a mud race. Tonight he’ll hit the cool bars with his mates.
He pulls his clothes on and wanders to the kitchen. The fridge is empty. Emerging from his man-cave he goes foraging for food. He crosses the road to the grocery store.
Bleary-eyed, he blinks with surprise.
I begin the story. It’s real. It’s poignant. It’s heartbreaking and it’s hopeful. A hush has fallen on the room. People are wide-awake. They’re leaning-in. And generously listening. Smart phones have momentarily been forgotten.
As I sat with Leanne in a café on The Strand in London, we began to talk about telling stories in business. “Huh storytelling,” she said. “We tried that in our business and it was awful!” Leanne is a Brand Director for a large healthcare company. “Awful?” I questioned. “So tell me more?” “Well Senior […]
Meerkat Manor is what my mother-in-law’s neighbours call her house in Derbyshire, UK. She has fallen-in-love with Aleksandr Orlov. He’s the Russian billionaire Meerkat fronting-up a novel marketing campaign for online insurance company www.comparethemarket.com. So enamored is she by Aleksandr – she’s invited his entire collection of family and friends to live with her and […]
The act of crafting stories takes us into deeper more authentic places within ourselves. When we communicate with story from that place we touch other people and catalyze them to go beyond their intellect and into their heart-felt emotions and gut-feelings. That’s the place from which people make decisions both in their personal lives and in business.
We’re called to empathise with ourselves and other people in order to tell a story – whether it’s to employees, colleagues, customers or investors. In order to empathise with them we have to pause, listen to their stories and ‘get-them’ on a feeling level. It’s beyond the intellect – I ‘understand you’ is intellectual – however ‘I see you’ ‘I hear you’ or ‘I get you’ is a felt sense. From there we can search within ourselves for authentic stories that will resonate with them.
In telling a story whether it’s about strategy, innovation or a brand story it needs to touch your audience on all three levels – mind, heart and soul, for your audience to ‘get you’ and so that your message has a powerful impact.
Imagine a business world where the power of love was balanced with the love of power let alone being able to overcome it?