Share Your Story

The Power of Story

Everything you do should be built around a STORY!

As often happens, Nick and I came at this whole STORY thing independently during our ongoing work, coaching and training. It happened several years ago. We were at Eagle Creek kicking around some ideas for upcoming Board and Custom Training when we realized that we had both been putting increasing emphasis on the whole idea of STORY.

STORYLINES. STORYBOARDS. STORYTELLING. We agreed that the Power of Story transcended just about everything.

The POWER of STORYTELLING is a given. It goes back, literally, to the beginning of humankind! STORIES are, without question, the most meaningful way to communicate any (and I mean ANY) MESSAGE!

It’s so much easier for you and your Board and anyone connected with your For Impact organization to SHARE THE STORY and PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY … than it is to go and ‘ask for money!!!’

STORY helps with the Open, Dialogue, Conversation, and much more. Building, telling, sharing your STORY is ALL you need to do. And I mean that pretty literally.

In our For Impact world, ‘SHARE THE STORY’ is about:

    • AUTHENTICITY
    • DIALOGUE
    • STORIES … here’s the ‘short list:’
The ORGANIZATION STORY.
(Founding. Problem/Solution.)
The IMPERATIVE STORY
(Change/Save/Impact Lives. Solve Problem. The Movement)
The VISION STORY.
(Cast a Vision. Purpose. 30,000’. “Where do we want to be in 1,000 days?”)
Your PERSONAL STORY.
(Part of Flow/Open. 3 Bullets.)
The LEGACY/HISTORY STORY.
(100 Years Old. Founded before the Country. 1st _______.)
The MATH/NUMBER STORY.
(The Gap. Income & Expenses. Revenue Streams. Transformational.)
The CAUSE & CASE STORY.
(Again: Problem/Solution. Impact.)
The MODEL STORY.
(Business Model. Funding Model.)
The PLAN STORY.
(The HOW we will get there. The ‘Blue’ Plan and the ‘Green’ Plan.)
The FUNDRAISING/DEVELOPMENT STORY.
(Authentic. Haven’t been out asking, etc.)
The BOARD STORY.
The TALENT STORY.
The PROSPECT STORY.

What are YOUR stories?

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Great Reads on Storytelling

Some powerful RESOURCES to help you around the concept of STORYTELLING:

  • The Power of Story by Jim Loehr.
    Already mentioned a few times. A must read. Loehr has always been one of my favorite thinkers/writers. This has become one of my ‘favorite’ books! His other book, The Power of Full Engagement, is required reading for our team.
  • “The Four Truths of the Storyteller”
    An article in Harvard Business Review by Peter Guber, leader in the entertainment/experience world. (December 2007) This line alone ought to get you to read this article. “Although the MIND may be part of your target, the HEART is the bull’s-eye.”Also by Gruber …
  • Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, AND Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story.
    Good stuff. Peter Guber, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment. Guber talks about ‘STORYTELLING’ as a “Professional Discipline.” Oh yeah. Quick quotes: 

    • “Stories are tools.”
    • “Stories need to be interactive.”
    • “Stories need a purpose.”

    (Thus, “Purposeful Storytelling.”)

For even more from Gruber …

  • You can read a powerful Q & A with Guber by Mike Hoffman in INC. magazine on the “Power of Effective Communicators.” (March 1, 2011)
  • Around the Corporate Campfire by Evelyn Clark.
    Subtitle says it all: How Great Leaders Use Stories to Inspire Success.
  • “Using Great Storytelling To Grow Your Business”
    A great article by Kaihan Krippendorff. (FAST COMPANY, March 5, 2012) Here’s the shorthand:

    • Use lots of LOTS… Language of the Senses. When you tell a story, share the see, smell, feel, taste and hear.
    • Build on your Story Spine. This comes from the Actors Institute, which suggests using a five-step structure called the Story Spine: Reality is introduced, conflict arrives, there’s a struggle, the conflict is resolved, new reality exists.
  • Storytelling by Fog, Budtz and Yakaboylu.
    This is more about storytelling as it relates to BRANDING … but there is still some great stuff! For example, the four elements of storytelling:

    • THE MESSAGE!!!
    • CONFLICT (Problem/Solution in Our World)
    • CHARACTERS (Who is involved? Share your own story on the visit, etc.)
    • PLOT
  • The Way of the Storyteller by Ruth Sawyer.
    Just one of those classics about STORYTELLING. Originally published in 1942. (Believe it or not, before I was born!) Just another way to look at STORIES.
  • Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler.
    Not the most ‘exciting’ book I’ve read but still has some good nuggets in it around the subtitle: TOOLS for Talking When Stakes Are High. It’s about trying to discover how to communicate best when it matters the most. Foreword by Stephen Covey.
  • A Whole New Mind (Storytelling) by Daniel Pink
    A brilliant thinker and author who clarifies and simplifies big concepts.
  • Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee.
  • The Dream Society by Rolf Jensen.

Finally, if you just want to have some fun, pick up

  • Story People by Brian Andreas.
    He is an ARTIST who just makes me laugh and think. I love his work.Here’s one of my favorite lines:“I like geography best,” he said, “because your mountains and rivers know the secret.”And I love: “Pay no attention to boundaries.”
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Tell Me Your Story

Here’s a great example straight out of a For Impact training session.

During breaks, at lunch and after the training, I stood in the front with a flipchart and tried to help people with the MESSAGE part of our For Impact sales process.

As always, their message was too much, too complicated, too many words. However, when I asked each to simply TELL ME THEIR STORY … the ‘WORDS’ JUMPED OUT!

HUGE lesson for all of us: Design the STORY! Tell the STORY! SHARE THE STORY!

Stories are magic!

If I say, “Tell me about your organization,” I typically hear a bunch of blah, blah, blah about services, methodology, numbers, plans. (Yawn.) It’s not ‘engaging!’

But if I say, “TELL ME YOUR STORY,” the reply is completely different. It’s heartfelt … and ENGAGES me!!

Stories are about AUTHENTICITY … PASSION … EMOTION and ENTHUSIASM! Stories also involve VISUALIZATION … IMAGINATION. They engage the listener!

As we continued through the training, there was a lot of ‘talk’ about the whole idea of ORAL storytelling. (Campfires, passed along from generation to generation, songs, etc.)

That led to some discussion about the story as the WRITTEN WORD. Playwrights, authors, poets, etc.

I would add one more way to tell a story: VISUALLY.

ORAL STORIES. WRITTEN STORIES. VISUAL STORIES. POWERFUL stuff!

Don’t ‘tell me about your organization’ … TELL ME YOUR STORY!

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Selling Is Not Telling … Unless It’s A Story!

If you’re a follower of For Impact, you’ve heard me say (probably a hundred times),
“You’re in SALES … get over it!”

The concept of ‘story’ is a huge element of the SALES process.

Selling is not about a PITCH (on an elevator)! It’s not a spiel. It’s not memorized.

It’s about a dialogue.

We ASK QUESTIONS. We LISTEN TO THE RESPONSE. We then RESPOND with a STORY or STORYLINE!

We used to call this IMPACT POINTS and TALKING POINTS. It was the idea of “reaching into your quiver of arrows” and selecting the right response. You could also think of it as reaching into your collection of STORIES.

Just ASK. LISTEN. RESPOND … with a STORY.

One of my favorite axioms around selling is that:
SELLING IS NOT TELLING!

Spewing, vomiting or unleashing a bunch of ‘words’ is not how you SELL!

Now … however, I always add this line … ‘UNLESS it’s a STORY!’

‘Telling’ a story is, without question, the most meaningful way to communicate any MESSAGE!

Stories inspire … empower … bring people together.

SELLING IS NOT TELLING! (Unless it’s a STORY!)

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Is Your Story Awesome?

The story you use to maximize funding …

The story that brings rock star talent to your doorstep and fully engages your team …

The story that you tell yourself every day to stay focused and fulfilled …

Is it AWESOME?

Story adds passion, purpose and urgency to your message, plan and everyday actions.

  • Is your story about needing more money? Or changing lives?
  • Do you have a good story that helps get to the ask?
  • Do you have a story that engages your board as passionate champions and advocates?

 

“We fail to realize that everything we say is a story — nothing more, nothing less.”

“Stories impose meaning on the chaos; they organize and give context to our experiences … Facts are meaningless until you create a story around them.”

“Your life is your story. Your story is your life.”

– From The Power of Story, by Jim Loehr

 

You have control over the story. That’s the WOW!

Take time to think about:

  • The flawed stories we tell ourselves. “She can’t make a gift of that size because she just made a big gift to the museum.” Stop making decisions for prospects.
  • Our funding stories. Do you need money for your annual fund? (Yawn. Who cares?) Or are you tying your story to your IMPACT?
  • Our organizational story. The story of “Braveheart” trumps the “Little Engine that Could.”
  • The Story of the SECTOR! The Story of our Raison d’être! Are we ‘not for profit’ or FOR IMPACT?

Story … if you ‘get it’ … is a BIG deal. DISCOVER your story and make it AWESOME.

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Discover Your Best Story

I was with an organization (to remain nameless) that had a super simple message but a really bad story. In talking with the group it was instantly apparent that their great message was trumped by a really bad story.

While the organization had a powerful, simple message on paper, the story I heard from several staff and board members was one about a long history of:

  • ‘not fundraising’
  • ‘yeah buts’
  • program stigmas
“We are still very much a little charity that deals with something most people are uncomfortable talking about. Donors aren’t used to giving to us and they think we have all the money we need.”

I heard this again and again.

Many organizations run into this problem. When I say someone has a really bad story, I mean their 30,000’ (high altitude) NARRATIVE is not representing their transcendent PURPOSE, their VISION, ‘BHAGs,’ their audacity. (To be very clear: I speak of the gravitas that you already possess. I’m not encouraging you to make something up for messaging purposes.)

So …

Let me tell you a different story about the same organization … all true.

  • This ‘little charity’ generates $15M/year through several funding streams – including fundraising.
  • It impacts over 8,000 families each year and completely changes … even SAVES the lives of scores of children who have been subjected to some of the worst atrocities imaginable.
  • People come from all over the world to work with this team of inspired and innovative leaders, counselors and program managers.

This organization needed to embrace the power of story … of their GREAT story. Your story is what you are. YOU tell your story. It can be ‘Eeyyore-ish’ or awesome.

Here’s a GREAT TOOL for DISCOVERING your BEST STORY:
Write down, in bullet-point-form, the things that get you REALLY FIRED UP about your organization. Connect the dots (literally) and you have the start of a pretty good story.

We did this exercise with the organization mentioned above. THEY were the ones to generate the compelling storylines above!

The process illustrates how they already owned both stories. We didn’t come in from the outside, for instance, and try to write a new story. To be the best STORYTELLER, you obviously need to be AUTHENTIC! You need to ‘own’ your story.

This is huge.

Story creates reality.

“We become what we think about.”
-Earl Nightingale

 

Sit down with your team to DISCOVER your BEST stories. Let us know if you need more help. In our teleseminars and training we:

  • Share examples of stories used at organizations that ENGAGE people and help GET TO THE ASK.
  • Address common challenges to funding, action and engagement – your STORY makes a big difference.
  • Give you several actionable tools use can use to DISCOVER your story and make it AWESOME.
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Sharing the Story

I got a note from one of the most wonderful women in the world … who, with her team, is running one of the most incredible women’s “shelters” in the United States.

United Way had asked her to speak at different corporations. Here’s her quote:

“I can bring them to tears in less than five minutes. I’m like a Hallmark card, only thing is my stories are all true and happened in their hometown.”

SHARE THE STORY PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY

Five minutes. True. Happened in their hometown.

THINK ABOUT IT. TELL YOUR STORY

“I never give presentations.”

“I do tell stories.”

“STORY after STORY after (linked) to STORY.”

I’m definitely a Tom Peters ‘groupie’. I picked up his book, The Little BIG Things, in the Tampa airport.

As always, his 163 nuggets are thoughtful and provocative.

I opened the book up to #25 You Are Your Story!

“He/she who has the best/most compelling/most resonate STORY wins: In life! In business! In front of the jury! In front of the congregation!”

I would simply add: IN FRONT OF THE PROSPECT!

SHARE THE STORY -> PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY.

As Tom Peters says: “HE/SHE WHO HAS THE BEST STORY WINS!”

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Storytelling & the Power of Story

I was in Ireland, doing some FOR IMPACT TRAINING. Wonderful, incredible people.

A country and economy that is growing, booming. And, For Impact Organizations that have powerful ‘Causes’ and ‘Cases!’

During breaks, at lunch and after the training, I stood in the front with a flipchart and tried to help people with the MESSAGE part of our For Impact sales process. As always, their message was too much, too complicated, too many words. However, when I asked each to simply TELL ME THEIR STORY … the ‘WORDS’ jumped out!

HUGE lesson for all of us:

DESIGN THE STORY! TELL THE STORY! SHARE THE STORY!

3 Big Ideas:

  • STORYBOARDING. It’s a Walt Disney animation term… but it works perfectly for us. Actually laying out the ‘STORY’ is a way to Prepare and Practice your Presentation!
    • HOW do you begin?
    • HOW do you talk about the WHAT, the WHY and the HOW?
    • WHO do you talk about? (Their Story)

    P.S. The story doesn’t always start with “In 1842, Father Sorin and six brothers came to a snowy lake which was actually two lakes…” (Notre Dame).

  • STORYTELLING!!!! Here I was, in Ireland, the land of incredible “storytellers” … what a great place to think about the POWER of STORYTELLING. It’s about AUTHENTICITY. It’s about VISUALIZATION and IMAGINATION. And it’s about PASSION, EMOTION and ENTHUSIASM. It’s POWERFUL stuff!
  • SHARING THE STORY. Nick and I have been using this idea for a long time. It’s so much easier for you and your Board and anyone connected with your For Impact Organization to SHARE THE STORY and PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY … than it is to go and ‘ask for money!!!’ THE POWER OF STORY helps with the Open, Dialogue, Conversation, and much more. Building, telling, sharing your STORY is ALL you need
    to do. And I mean that pretty literally.
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Empower Volunteers. Engage Investors.

Great stories empower your volunteers to connect with other prospective investors.

Here’s a simple test: Ask any of your Volunteer Leaders or Board Members (or even key staff) if they would rather:

ASK THEIR FRIENDS FOR MONEY
or…
SHARE THE STORY (AND) ——–> PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY!!!

No one wants to ‘ask the friends for money.’

But ‘share a story?’ Can’t tell you how many board members we’ve worked with who’ve said, “Oh, I can do that!”

On the flip side …

Prospective investors are LOOKING FOR a GREAT STORY.

I thought you would enjoy these THOUGHTS from a philanthropist about the IMPORTANCE of a GOOD STORY:

“I also know firsthand what a donor experiences when being approached.

The very first thing I want to hear is a GOOD STORY. Why are you the one cause or organization I should give my time and money towards?

I hear lots of moving stories. Essentially I’m being asked to take a leap of faith that you are the most capable to make the dream come true.”

Get out of your office and start sharing your story … your story that’s SO GREAT that it inspires listeners to “take a leap of faith!

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Re-Write Your Destiny in Business and in Life

Jim Loehr is one of my favorite authors. He began his career working with high-profile athletes in tennis and moved to other sports. He now runs the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, where he now focuses on executives and leaders.

His book, The Power of Full Engagement is required reading in our little organization. The entire message is on the cover: Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.

His more recent, groundbreaking book, The Power of Story, talks about the way we tell STORIES about ourselves, to ourselves – and how we can change those STORIES to transform our business and our personal lives.

“Your story is your life.” Jim Loehr makes this point early and often. While much of the book is geared towards our personal stories … every idea, nugget and point has amazing relevance to all of our organizations as well.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It can change the way you think, operate and even fund.

Three teasers:

  • The 3 RULES of STORYTELLING. (Page 137)
    • PURPOSE.
    • TRUTH.
    • ACTION.
  • IT’S NOT ABOUT TIME
    Great summary of The Power of Engagement, ENERGY, focus, etc. (Page 153)
  • FALSE ASSUMPTIONS turned into stories.Loehr says that much of the material of our life and organization stories are based on assumptions – many of which are not true. (Page 68)

This could be one of the most impactful books you can read for your own PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT, your ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOMENT and your INCOME DEVELOPMENT!

Order this book fast. Download it on your Kindle. Do whatever you’ve got to do to understand The Power of Story.

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Example from the Land of Storytelling

Here’s a summarized version of the STORY for The Abbey Theatre in Ireland.

They’re an amazing organization, with an incredibly rich history, a glitch five years ago that has been dramatically reversed, a terrific Senior Team and more.

I believe The Abby would tell you that one of the most important things we’ve done as their COACH has been to help them tell their story! Obviously, as a theatre/artistic/performance group … The Abbey and its leadership understand the whole idea of ‘STORY.’ The challenge was that the story they were telling (and not telling) wasn’t working.

Hope the following helps you better understand the whole idea of STORY and its power:

THE ABBEY’S STORYLINES:

  • The ORGANIZATION STORY.
    THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF IRELAND! For over 100 years have been staging and reflecting Irish life and culture. Deeply engaged in the Easter Rising in 1916 (founding of the country!) … and will be again on the 100th Anniversary in 2016. Major challenges in 2004, leadership, financial, etc. Big-time turnaround. Superstar Artistic Director. Super-smart CFO. ‘Brilliant’ new Senior Team. New financial controls. New Message and Marketing. Now in position to scale and grow the IMPACT of The Abbey in Dublin, Ireland, the United States and around the world.
  • The MESSAGE STORY.
    Again, THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF IRELAND! Staging and reflecting Irish life and culture. Connecting TALENT and AUDIENCES!
  • PERSONAL STORIES.
    Everyone on the Senior Team (and actually the Board as well) has their own personal story as it relates to Ireland, the Theatre and The Abbey. Each can now tell that in a powerful way.
  • The LEGACY/HISTORY STORY.
    FOUNDED before there was a country! Manifesto written in 1899. Yeats, with the help of two amazing women benefactors, founded The Abbey in 1904. Abbey central to the Easter Rising in 1916. Abbey full of legendary artists and writers including James Joyce, Sean O’Casey, George Bernard Shaw and now Tom Murphy, Bryan Freel and Mark O’Rowe. Now impacting almost 100,000 people from 62 countries enjoying shows at The Abbey; five world premieres; etc.
  • The MATH/NUMBERS STORY.
    The government plays a huge role in funding the Arts in Ireland. Part of the ‘Numbers’ Story is that this money goes to help sponsor and underwrite performances to allow the people of Ireland access to theatre and artistic work. The ‘Math’ Story also includes ‘tightening of the belt’ (redundancy), packaging up the actual ‘cost’ of performances and tours and much more. [E.g., the actual (average) ‘gap‘ for each performance is approximately
    €1,016.] (Cost – Ticket Sales = Gap)
  • The CAUSE & CASE STORY.
    The ‘Cause’ Story has now grown from simply being THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF IRELAND and doing what The Abbey has always done … and to becoming a leader and prime-time player in the resurgence of Ireland’s economy! Business and political leadership in Ireland have determined that Arts and Culture are two of the country’s greatest assets.The Abbey needs to be positioned as a vital part of the country’s message.The ‘Case’ Story centers around The Abbey’s responsibility to:

    • Develop Playwrights
    • Mark History
    • Create Dialogue
  • The MODEL STORY.
    The Abbey has an entirely new FUNDING MODEL built around TODAY. TOMORROW. FOREVER. It is a top-down model that relies heavily on shoulder-to-shoulder visits with The Abbey’s very best Qualified Prospects and Potential Investors. The model is designed to help The Abbey with Current Operations (Today), Priorities & Projects over the next six years (Tomorrow) and Legacy/Planned Gifts (Forever).
  • The PLAN STORY.
    There is a very specific ACTION PLAN around both IMPACT and INCOME. In the ‘blue’ IMPACT … that Plan includes encouraging and developing playwrights, particularly more women playwrights; expanding The Abbey’s reach and influence to the school children of Ireland; reaching out to the Irish Diaspora around the world, and much more.The ‘green’INCOME Plan/Story includes very specific fundraising goals for the Yeats Performance Fund (1,016 Euros, 100/300/400+ Members); 25/50 Members in the Annie Horniman Circle (10,300 Euros); 50-100 Members in Lennox Robinson Society (Legacy Gifts), etc. The FUNDING PLAN Story also includes a bold and aggressive outreach to the United States.
  • The FUNDRAISING/DEVELOPMENT STORY.
    Simple story. Yeats was the original fundraiser. The Theatre was built on fundraising … literally. It’s in The Abbey DNA. The performer IS also the business storyteller. First gift from Annie Horniman for 10,300 lbs sterling. Yeats then did three whistle stop funding tours in the U.S. where the Irish Americans BUILT the Theatre and brand known today.Yeats sat with people in New York just as The Abbey is doing today … continuing the tradition. Fiach is Yeats and the person The Abbey is sitting with is Annie.2nd Story. No real culture of philanthropy in Ireland until very recently. No real fundraising or development for The Abbey until very, very recently. Government has been and continues to be the #1 investor/benefactor. The Abbey has not gone out and ASKED. The Abbey is now out SHARING THE STORY … and PRESENTING THE OPPORTUNITY.
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Shaping the Message. Telling the Story.

In a blurb that came out from Notre Dame News, the president, Father John Jenkins, was talking about his vice president of university relations, Lou Nanni.

In a very complimentary way, Father Jenkins indicated that, in the time that he has served, Lou has been involved in “shaping Notre Dame’s messaging and helping tell our story to various constituencies.”

I’ve gotten a lot of comments over the years about how ‘easy’ it would be to raise money for Notre Dame … how you don’t have to worry about doing ‘this stuff’ at Notre Dame, etc.

Father Jenkins quote seems like a gentle reminder that, even at Notre Dame, it is very important to shape the message and tell the story.

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Think Visual: Imagineering

I once spent a day at Disney World with an amazing group of Junior Achievement CHAMPIONS (aka Board Members and Staff). It was a six-hour ‘RETREAT’ and my role was to facilitate/coach to help Junior Achievement Board Members become more ENGAGED and more PASSIONATE ADVOCATES for Youth Development, Economic Development and Workforce Development.

We (60 Board and Staff Members from Junior Achievement of Central Florida and West Coast) spent the day talking about IMPACT and INCOME and their ROLE. I was totally energized by the commitment of these CHAMPIONS … and of their serious desire to figure out how to help.

As part of my ‘prep,’ I re-read one of my favorite ‘books’ called Walt Disney Imagineering, by the Disney Imagineers. It’s full of all kinds of the SKETCHES (VISUALS) that were eventually turned into reality.

Following are some tweet-like quotes from Walt Disney Imagineering that reinforce the entire idea of STORIES and VISUALS.

“You know bankers don’t have any imagination, none at all.
You have to SHOW them what you’re going to do.”

– Walt Disney

 

“I could never convince the financiers that Disneyland was feasible
because dreams offer too little collateral.”

– Walt Disney

 

“Question: How many Imagineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Does it have to be a light bulb?”

 

“For Disneyland, the process of ‘learning and succeeding
by dreaming and doing’ was employed for the very first time.”

 

“The only rule during this time (of brainstorming Disneyland): There are no rules.”

 

“The Walt Disney Company is in the business of TELLING STORIES.”

 

“There are no days in life so memorable
as those which vibrate to some stroke of the IMAGINATION.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

“Storyboards are used a PRESENTATION TOOL… to SELL THE IDEA!”
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Storyboarding

Try this tool for building your story.

STORYBOARDING: It’s a Walt Disney animation term … but it works perfectly for us. Actually laying out the ‘STORY’ is a way to Prepare and Practice your Presentation!

  • HOW do you begin?
  • HOW do you talk about the WHAT, the WHY and the HOW?
  • WHO do you talk about? (Their Story)

Storyboarding works for helping you design your ORAL STORIES … WRITTEN STORIES … or VISUAL STORIES. Or any way you combine them.

P.S. The story doesn’t always start with “In 1842, Father Sorin and six brothers came to a snowy lake which was actually two lakes…” (Notre Dame).

Be creative.

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Secrets of the World’s Best Storytellers

“Let me tell you a story …”

The exact same story can be told very differently by different people … or in different ways.

The STORYTELLER as a lot to do with it. To most effectively ‘share the story’ of your For Impact organization, you want a storyteller who is authentic … filled with passion for your organization … and a great communicator.

To help you tell your story the very best way possible, here are the 7 SECRETS OF THE WORLD’S BEST STORYTELLERS*:

  • LESS IS MORE!
    • Make every word count.
    • Get it perfect … then cut even more
  • DRAMATIC PAUSE!
    • Use silence.
    • Use inflection.
    • Think like an actor.
  • PAINT VIVID WORD PICTURES!
    Listen to Zig Ziglar tell the story of how the “Redhead” got him to buy his first house!!
  • PAINT … WITH YOUR HAND, YOUR MIND AND YOUR HEART!
    • Really get into it.
    • EnthusIASM (IASM: “I Am Sold Myself.”)
    • Passion.
  • ACT THE STORY … DON’T REPORT IT!
    Storytelling is NOT a PowerPoint … Presentation … from the Podium! It’s about PERFORMANCE … whether it’s one-on-one or in front of a group.
  • KEEP IT SIMPLE! KEEP IT SMALL! KEEP IT SHORT!
  • CUSTOMIZE TO YOUR AUDIENCE!
    The absolute best stories and best storytellers make the story RELEVANT to the audience … to the topic … to the point.

At For Impact, we’re all about training, coaching … PRACTICING! PRACTICE your STORY! ‘Practice’ with everybody and anybody. The better the storyteller … the more powerful the story!

*I cannot remember (senility) where I found these 7 secrets. If you know the SOURCE, please let me know.

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Tell Your Story Enough and You Will Change the World

Let me tell you a story … about an amazing man and social entrepreneur named Bill Strickland. We had the opportunity to exchange ideas with him and his team at the Manchester Bidwell Training Center in Pittsburgh.

Bill’s credited as a terrific social entrepreneur and a visionary; he’s both. More importantly, his program to transform the lives of poor youth individuals and the community works. Harvard’s done four case studies exploring the success. (By the way, Apple is the only other ‘organization’ to be the subject of four Harvard Case Studies.)

What I really appreciate about Bill is his ‘persistent story telling.’ I’ll bet he’s shared his slide show 3000+ times. I know for a fact he’s shared his story in front of every audience that will have him … in hundreds of cities … around the world.

I share this with you for two reasons. First, Bill is a great storyteller and you need to hear his story. (Listen to his TED Talk, “Bill Strickland makes change with a slide show.”)

Second, the dude works hard and you can too! Sharing your story 3000 times is hard work. It requires persistence and conviction to your message. Sometimes you end up speaking to a room of five people and sometimes Jeff Skoll is in the audience. Bill’s stories frequently include something like, “And [insert famous/influential name] was in the audience; she came up to me and said, ‘I’d like to help!’

If you tell your story 3000 times I promise these things will happen to you as well. Here’s the thing … you don’t need to share your story 3000 times. You don’t even need to share your story 1000 times. It’s just the idea of committing to MASSIVE ACTION (as Tony Robbins calls it).

What if you told YOUR story 100 times? You WILL raise some funds and change some lives.

What if you told YOUR story 1000 times? You WILL change your sector or city.

What if you told YOUR story 3000 times? You WILL change the world.

In 2011, Bill was awarded the 2011 Goi Peace Award. This is Japan’s equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize.

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“If you don’t like how things are going, tell a different story.”

Here’s a really solid article from Rosabeth Moss Kanter at Harvard Business Review: If You Don’t Like Your Future, Re-Write Your Past. (June 11, 2012)

At For Impact and The Suddes Group, we talk an awful lot about the power of story.

This article reinforces the whole idea of changing the narrative … so that it creates a different view/perspective.

Every one of us can take this to heart. “If you don’t like how things are going, tell a different story.”

Here’s a For Impact example of how to ‘tell a different story.’ It’s an excerpt from our On Boards guidebook:

The best way to begin improving the dynamics of your Board relationship is to Change the Story.

OLD STORY: What is the current ‘STORY’ you’re telling yourself about your Board?

They want to micro-manage everything.

They won’t give us names.

They won’t ask their friends for money.

We can’t get new and better Board Members.

We are stuck with ‘Legacy’ Board Members.

We all dread Board Meetings.

This ‘story’ is familiar, but doesn’t have to be true moving forward.

NEW STORY:WHAT IF… you change that ‘STORY’ to one that sounded like this:

Our Collective Board is engaged with us at 30,000’ around our Vision.

Our Individual Board Members help us at 14,000’ around our Strategy.

Our Board truly understands their role when it comes to funding … and they love it.

Successful community leaders who believe in our Cause and our Case are fighting to get on our Board.

We have had great conversations with our entire Board about the ‘BUS’… where it’s going and who needs to be on it. Those who are not in alignment with our direction have gracefully and gratefully accepted either Emeritus status or rotated off the Board.

Our Board Meetings are now Memorable Experiences … exciting opportunities to both see and talk about our Impact! We can’t wait for the next one.

You control the Board ‘Story!’ It can be a negative story or a positive story. Your choice.

Either way, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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‘The Little Engine that Could’ Syndrome

You all know the story of the ‘Little Engine that Could.’ Great little blue engine that pulled the big train chanting, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” It’s about the little guy overcoming odds with attitude and proving something for himself.

It’s great. But it’s not your organization’s best story.

The Little Engine story-syndrome for nonprofits looks something like this:

“We’re really tiny but we don’t give up. We make good use of everything. We’re struggling but we’re going to make it. We believe we can. We believe we’re doing good work! Can you support us?”

So?

Present a better story. The Little Engine That Could story is a narrative about confidence.

We want a narrative about PURPOSE!

No time for you to tell us you can give yourself a pep talk. With all due respect to the little engine, we’re not pulling a train full of toys; we’re SAVING lives, CHANGING lives and IMPACTING lives!

Channel Ghandi.

Inspire like MLK.

Heck, charge forward like Braveheart.

They were driven by a sense of PURPOSE, not self-discovery.

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The World’s First Elevator Pitch

We urge you to read Dan Pink’s book, TO SELL IS HUMAN!

Go immediately to Page 155 and read about Elisha Otis and the world’s first elevator pitch!

Teaser: It involved him climbing on top of one of the world’s first elevators and taking an axe and slashing the rope that is suspending it in mid-air!

We love Dan’s thinking as he goes into the 6 Successors to the Elevator Pitch:

  • The One-Word Pitch (IMPACT!)
  • The Question Pitch (JUST ASK!)
  • The Rhyming Pitch (LIVE TO GIVE. GIVE TO LIVE.)
  • The Subject Line Pitch (YOU JUST WON $1M FROM NIGERIAN LOTTERY.)
  • The Twitter Pitch (ESPECIALLY TWEETS THAT PROVIDE INFORMATION AND LINKS OF VALUE TO RECIPIENTS.)
  • The Pixar Pitch!!! (Page 170. THIS ALONE IS WORTH THE PRICE OF THE BOOK.)

Pink reinforces everything we’ve read about Pixar, John Lasseter and his team, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney Company, and more.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE STORY!

Once upon a time there was _________. Every day _________.
One day ________ and _________. Because of that _________ .
Because of that __________. Until finally _________.

 

To every For Impact organization out there … fill in the blanks and you have your STORY! document

You know our FI | TSG line: You’re in Sales. Get over IT!

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Take Massive Action

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we will use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is: ACT/EXECUTE on YOUR ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY!

A ‘Campaign’ is all about ACTION. The literal translation or definition of a ‘Campaign’ probably has its provenance with Napoleon and War. As any great general or military leader will tell you, success in war is about MASSIVE ACTION – NOW.

We’ve watched hundreds and hundreds of organizations screw around for years trying to figure out what to do, when to do it, where to hold the kickoff, etc. There are great organizations out there who, right now, are still debating the “impact of the economy and the recession,” or “somebody else has kicked off a campaign in our community” or “our donors are tired and maybe we should wait” and on and on. UGH!

CHALLENGE FOR THE DAY: What are the 3 ‘MASSIVE ACTIONS’ that you could take RIGHT NOW that would cause an EXPLOSIVE EXPONENTIAL JUMP or a QUANTUM LEAP for your organization?

WRITE THEM DOWN.

Then, GO DO ‘EM.

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The Elevator Pitch is Dead

“What’s your elevator pitch?”

The lore of the elevator pitch comes from the early days of Hollywood when one would hope to trap an executive in an elevator and ‘pitch.’ The Elevator Pitch is an enduring shorthand that represents the simplest description of what you do.

You need brevity and simplicity… but simplicity alone is not your goal! Your goal is to get the other person to say, “I get it!” or “I want to learn more!”

The Elevator Pitch is dead. What we aim for is Elevator Engagement.

We achieve our goal more effectively and efficiently if we focus on the two-way (engagement) and not the one-way (pitch). Instead of spewing for 20-60 seconds (even if succinct), think about one great question you can ask the other person to get them ENGAGED in a conversation.

At our boot camps we do an exercise to illustrate that you can actually communicate WAYYYY more in 60 seconds by simply asking one or two questions than you can by talking (however concise you may be). It works because:

  • In asking a question, you start with the other person’s construct (or gestalt!).
  • We become fully engaged when we are talking. So, the simple act of getting the other person to talk changes the level of engagement. (This is Dale Carnegie 101!)
  • If you start with a question, you immediately learn what is pertinent and non-pertinent. You can use a short amount of time on relevant information.
  • Finally, we can position our work in their words. LISTENING is one of the most powerful selling skills in the world.

Earlier this year we were helping an organization make a neuroscience pitch to a foundation. The executive director was asked to appear before the foundation board and ‘make a pitch’. We had to reprogram her default, one-way pitch, to instead starting with a question to the panel of eight. She simply asked, “Has anyone ever had experience with a stroke, or a family member that’s had a stroke?” The board chair raised his hand and then spent two minutes talking about the importance of neuroscience research. Others jumped in. They were engaged — fully.

The executive director was able to simply build on the conversation. Though she had eight slides prepared, she found she only needed to use three of them (in response to the conversation). The board said it was one of the best pitches they had ever received – that’s because she didn’t pitch; she engaged.

She was awarded the grant!

Nota bene: There are many circles (usually tied to funding communities, e.g., silicon valley and nyc / financial) where a ‘pitch-deck’ is standard affair. Don’t let the ‘pitch deck’ put you in ‘pitch mode.’ As in the neuroscience story, you should focus on engagement. And, of course, we’re partial to the one-page pitch deck!

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